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cX&M? there was war in 
heaven: Michael and his 
angels fought against the 
dragon; and the dragon 
fought and his angels 9 and 
prevailednot; neither was 
their place found any more 
in heaven. And the great 

dragon was cast out f that 
old serpent, called the 
Devil, and Satan, which 
deceiveth the whole 
world: he was cast out 
into the earth, and his 
angels were cast out with 



1929 BY AXEL MUNTHE :: :: ALL 

First Edition July 1989 

Reprinted ------- Oct. 1989 

Third Printing ------ Dee. 1989 

Fourth and Fifth Printing* - Mar. 19SO 

Sixth and Seventh Printings - April 1930 

Eighth and Ninth Printings - May 1930 

Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Printings - June 1930 

Thirteenth to Sixteenth Printing - - July 1930 

Seventeenth to Twenty-fourth Printing - Aug. 1930 

Twenty-fifth to Thirtieth Printing - - ffept. 1930 

Thirty-first to Thirty-eighth Printing - Oct. 1930 

Thirty-ninth to Sixty-third Printing - Nov. 1930 

Sixty-fourth to Sixty-eighth Printing - Dec. 1930 

Sixty-ninth to Seventy-third Printing - Feb. 1931 
Seventy-fourth to Seventy-seventh 

Printing ------ Jfar. 1931 

Seventy-eighth to Eighty-first Printing - June 1931 

Eighty-second to Eighty-eighth Printing - July 1931 

Eighty-mnth to Ninety-second Printing - Dec. 1931 


Ninety-third to Ninety-sixth Printing - Oct. 1982 

Ninety-seventh to One Hundred-First 

Printing ------ tf c v. 19$$ 

One Hundred-Second to One Hundred- 
Sixth Printing ----- Jime 1934 

One HundrecLSeventh to One Hundred- 
Thirteenth Printing - - - - July 1936 

One Hundred-Fourteenth Printing - - Nov. 1945 




REVIEWERS of this book seem to have found 
considerable difficulty in attempting to clas- 
sify the Story of San Michele, and I do not won- 
der. Some have described the book as an Auto- 
biography, others have called it " The Memoirs of 
a Doctor." As far as I can understand, it is 
neither the one nor the other. Surely it could not 
have taken me five hundred pages to write down 
the story of my life, even had I not left out its 
saddest and most eventful chapters. All I can say 
is that I never meant to write a book about my- 
self; it was, on the contrary, my constant pre- 
occupation the whole time to try to shake off this 
vague personality. If anyhow this book has turned 
out to be an Autobiography, I begin to believe 
that, judging from the sale of it, the simplest way 
to write a book about oneself consists in trying as 
hard as one can to think of somebody else. All a 
man has to do is to sit still in a chair by himself, 
and look back upon his life with his blind eye. Bet- 
ter still would be to lie down in the grass and not 
to think at all, only to listen. Soon the distant roar 
of the world dies away, and the forests and fields 
begin to sing with clear bird voices, friendly animals 
come up to tell him their joys and sorrows in sounds 
and words that he can understand, and when all is 



silent even the lifeless things around him begin to 
whisper in their sleep. 

To call this book " The Memoirs of a Doctor," 
as some reviewers have done, seems to me even 
less appropriate. Its boisterous simplicity, its un- 
blushing frankness, its very lucidity fit ill with 
such a pompous sub-title. Surely a medical man, 
like every other human being, has the right to 
laugh at himself now and then to keep up his 
spirits, maybe even to laugh at his colleagues if 
he is willing to stand the risk. But he has no right 
to laugh at his patients. To shed tears with them 
is even worse, a whimpering doctor is a bad doc- 
tor. An old physician should, besides, think twice 
before sitting down in his arm-chair to write his 
memoirs. Better keep to himself what he has seen 
of Life and Death. Better write no memoirs at 
all, and leave the dead in peace and the living to 
their illusions. 

Somebody has called the Story of San Michele 
a story of Death. Maybe it is so, for Death is 
seldom out of my thoughts, "Non nasce in me 
pensier che non vi sia dentro scolpita la Morte" 
wrote Michel Angelo to Vasari. I have been 
wrestling so long with my grim colleague; always 
defeated, I have seen him slay one by one all 
those I have tried to save. I have had a few 
of them in mind in this book as I saw them live, 
as I saw them suffer, as I saw them lie down to 
die. It was all that I could do for them. They 
were all humble people, no marble crosses stand 
on their graves, many of them were already for- 
gotten long before they died. They are all right 
now. Old Maria Porta Lettere who climbed the 


777 Phoenician steps for thirty years on her naked 
feet with my letters, is now carrying the post in 
Heaven, where dear old Pacciale sits smoking his 
pipe of peace, still looking out over the infinite 
sea as he used to do from the pergola of San 
Michele, and where my friend Archangelo Fusco, 
the street-sweeper in Quartier Montparnasse, is 
still sweeping the star-dust from the golden floor. 
Down the stately peristyle of lapis-lazuli columns 
struts briskly little Monsieur Alphonse, the doyen 
of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in the Pittsburg 
millionaire's brand-new frock-coat, solemnly rais- 
ing his beloved top hat to every saint he meets, as 
he used to do to all my friends when he drove 
down the Corso in my victoria. John, the blue- 
eyed little boy who never smiled, is now playing 
lustily with lots of other happy children in the 
old nursery of the Bambino. He has learnt to 
smile at last. The whole room is full of flowers, 
singing birds are flying in and out through the 
open windows, now and then the Madonna looks 
in to see that the children have all they want. 
John's mother, who nursed Mm so tenderly in 
Avenue des Villiers, is still down here. I saw her 
the other day. Poor Flopette, the harlot, looks 
ten years younger than when I saw her in the 
night-cafe on the boulevard; very tidy and neat in 
her white dress, she is now second housemaid to 
Mary Magdalen. 

In a humble corner of the Elysian Fields is the 
cemetery of the dogs. All my dead friends are 
there, their bodies are still where I laid them down 
under the cypresses by the old Tower, but their 
faithful hearts have been taken up here. Kind 


St. Rocco, the little patron-saint of all dogs, is 
the custodian of the cemetery, and good old Miss 
Hall is a frequent visitor there. Even the rascal 
Billy, the drunkard Baboon, who set fire to II 
Canonico Don Giacinto's coffin, has been admitted 
on trial to the last row of graves in the monkey 
cemetery some way off, after a close scrutiny from 
St. Peter, who noticed he smelled of whisky and 
mistook him at first for a human being. Don 
Giacinto himself, the richest priest in Capri, who 
had never given a penny to the poor, is still roast- 
ing in his coffin, and the ex-butcher of Anacapri, 
who blinded the quails with a red-hot needle, has 
had his own eyes stung out by the Devil in person 
in a fit of professional jealousy. 

One reviewer has discovered that "there is 
enough material in the Story of San Michele to 
furnish writers of short sensational stories with 
plots for the rest of their lives." They are quite 
welcome to this material for what it is worth. 
I have no further use for it. Having concen- 
trated my literary efforts during a lifetime on 
writing prescriptions, I am not likely to try my 
hand on short sensational stories so late in the 
day. Would that I had thought of it before, or 
I should not be where I am today! Surely it 
must be a more comfortable job to sit in an 
arm-chair and write short sensational stories than 
to toil through life to collect the material for 
them, to describe diseases and Death than to 
fight them, to concoct sinister plots than to be 
knocked down by them without warning! But 
why do not these professionals collect their 
material themselves? They seldom do. Novel 


writers, who insist on taking their readers to the 
slums, seldom go there themselves. Specialists 
on disease and Death can seldom be persuaded 
to come with you to the hospital where they have 
just finished off their heroine. Poets and philoso- 
phers, who in sonorous verse and prose hail Death 
as the Deliverer, often grow pale at the very 
mention of the name of their best friend. It is 
an old story. Leopardi, the greatest poet of 
modern Italy, who longed for Death in exquisite 
rhymes ever since he was a boy, was the first to 
fly in abject terror from cholera-stricken Naples. 
Even the great Montaigne, whose calm medita- 
tions on Death are enough to make him immortal, 
bolted like a rabbit when the peste broke out in 
Bordeaux. Sulky old Schopenhauer, the greatest 
philosopher of modern times, who had made the 
negation of life the very keystone of his teaching, 
used to cut short all conversation about Death. 
The bloodiest war novels were written, I believe, 
by peaceful citizens well out of the range of the 
long-distance German guns. Authors who delight 
in making their readers assist at scenes of sexual 
orgies are generally very indifferent actors in such 
scenes. Personally I only know of one exception 
to this rule, Giiy de Maupassant, and I saw him 
die of it. 

I am aware that some of the scenes in this book 
are laid on the ill-defined borderland between the 
real and the unreal, the dangerous No Man's 
Land between fact and fancy where so many 
writers of memoirs have come to grief and where 
Goethe himself was apt to lose his bearings in his 
"Dichtung und Wahrheit." I have tried my 


best by means of a few well-known technical tricks 
to make at least some of these episodes pass off 
as " short sensational stories." After all, it is only 
a question of form. It will be a great relief to 
me if I have succeeded, I do not ask for better 
than not to be believed. It is bad enough and sad 
enough anyhow. God knows I have a good deal 
to answer for as it is. I shall also take it as a 
compliment, for thfe greatest writer of short sen- 
sational stories I know is Life. But is Life always 

Life is the same as it always was, unruffled 
by events, indifferent to the joys and sorrows 
of man, mute and incomprehensible as the sphinx. 
But the stage on which the everlasting tragedy 
is enacted changes constantly to avoid monotony. 
The world we lived in yesterday is not the same 
world as we live in to-day, inexorably it moves 
on through the infinite towards its doom, and so 
do we. No man bathes twice in the same river, said 
Heraclitus. Some of us crawl on our knees, some 
ride on horseback or in motor-cars, others fly past 
the carrier-pigeon in aeroplanes. There is no need 
for hurry, we are all sure to reach the journey's 

No, the world I lived in when I was young is 
not the same world that I live in to-day, at least 
it does not seem so to me. Nor do I think it will 
seem so to those who read this book of rambles 
in search of adventure in the past. There are no 
more brigands with a record of eight homicides to 
offer you to sleep on their mattresses in tumble- 
down Messina. No more granite sphinxes are 
crouching under the ruins of Nero's villa in 


Calabria. The maddened rats in the cholera slums 
of Naples, who frightened me to death, have long 
ago retreated in safety to their Roman sewers. 
You can drive up to Anacapri in a motor-car, and 
to the top of the Jungfrau in a train, and climb 
the Matterhorn with rope-ladders. Up in Lap- 
land no pack of hungry wolves, their eyes blazing 
in the dark like burning coals, is likely *td gallop 
behind your sledge across the frozen lake. The 
gallant old bear, who barred my way in the lonely 
Suvla gorge, has long ago departed to the Happy 
Hunting Fields. The foaming torrent I swam 
across with Bistin, the Lap-girl, is spanned by a 
railway-bridge. The last stronghold of the terrible 
Stalo, the Troll, has been pierced by a tunnel. The 
Little People I heard patter about under the floor 
of the Lap tent, no more bring food to the sleeping 
bears in their winter quarters, that is why there are 
so few bears in Sweden to-day. You are welcome 
to laugh incredulously at these busy Little People 
as much as you like, at your own risk and peril. 
But I refuse to believe that any reader of this book 
will have the effrontery to deny that it was a real 
goblin I saw sitting on the table in Forsstugan and 
pull cautiously at my Watch-chain. Of course it 
was a real goblin. Who could it otherwise have 
been? I tell you I saw him distinctly with both 
my eyes when I sat up in my bed just as the tallow 
candle was flickering out. I am told to my surprise 
that there are people who have never seen a goblin. 
One cannot help feeling sorry for such people. I 
am sure there must be something wrong with their 
eyesight. Old uncle Lars Anders in Forsstugan, 
six feet six in his sheepskin-coat and wooden shoes, 


is dead long ago, and so is dear old Mother Ker- 
stin, his wife. But the little goblin I saw sitting 
cross-legged on the table in the attic over the cow- 
stall is alive. It is only we who die. 


July, 1930. 


I HAD rushed over to London from France to 
see about my naturalization, it looked as if 
my country was going to be dragged into the war 
by the side of Germany. Henry James was to be 
one of my sponsors, he had just been naturalized 
himself, " Civis Britannicus sum," he said in his 
deep voice. He knew that I had tried to do my 
bit and that I had failed because I had become too 
helpless myself to be of any help to others* He 
knew the fate that awaited me. He laid his hand 
on my shoulder and asked me what I was going to 
do with myself? I told him I was about to leave 
France for good to hide like a deserter in my old 
tower. It was the only place I was fit for. As he 
wished me good-bye he reminded me how years ago 
when he was staying with me at San Michele he 
had encouraged me to write a book about my island 
home, which he had called the most beautiful place 
in the world. Why not write the Story of San 
Michele now if it came to the worst and my cour- 
age began to flag? Who could write about San 
Michele better than I who had built it with my own 
hands? Who could describe better than I all these 
priceless fragments of marbles strewn over the gar- 
den where the villa of Tiberius once stood? And 
the sombre old Emperor himself whose weary foot 
had trod the very mosaic floor I had brought to 
light under the vines, what a fascinating study f at 


a man like me who was so interested in psychology! 
There was nothing like writing a book for a man 
who wanted to get away from his own misery, 
nothing like writing a book for a man who could 
not sleep. 

These were his last words, I never saw my friend 

I returned to my useless solitude in the old 
tower, humiliated and despondent. While every- 
body else was offering his life to his country, I 
spent my days wandering up and down in the dark 
tower, restless like a caged animal, while the never- 
ending tidings of suffering and woe were read to 
me. Now and then of an evening when the relent- 
less light of the day had ceased to torture my eyes, 
I used to wander up to San Michele in search of 
news. The flag of the British Red Cross was flying 
over San Michele where brave and disabled men 
were nursed back to health by the same sun that 
had driven me away from my beloved home. Alas 
for the news ! How long was the waiting for those 
who could do nothing but wait! 

But how many of us dare to confess what so 
many have felt, that the burden of their own grief 
seemed easier to bear while all men and women 
around us were in mourning, that the wound in 
their own flanks seemed almost to heal while the 
blood was flowing from so many other wounds? 
Who dared to grumble over his own fate while the 
fate of the world was at stake? Who dared to 
whimper over his own pain while all these mutilated 
men were lying on their stretchers silent with set 
At last the storm abated. All was silent as be- 


fore in the old tower, I was alone wjih my fear. 
Man was built to carry his own cross, that is why 
he was given his strong shoulders. A man can 
stand a lot as long as he can stand himself. He can 
live without hope, without friends, without books, 
even without music, as long as he can listen to his 
own thoughts and to the singing of a bird outside 
his window and to the far-away voice of the sea. 
I was told at St. Dunstan's that he can even live 
without light, but those who told me so were heroes.. 
But a man cannot live without sleep. When I 
ceased to sleep I began to write this book, all milder 
remedies having failed. It has been a great success, 
so far as I am concerned. Over and over again I 
have blessed Henry James for his advice. I have 
been sleeping much better of late. It has even, 
been a pleasure to me to write this book, I no* 
longer wonder why so many people are taking ta 
writing books in our days. Unfortunately I have 
been writing the Story of San Michele under pecu- 
liar difficulties. I was interrupted at the very be- 
ginning by an unexpected visitor who sat down 
opposite to me at the writing table and began to 
talk about himself and his own affairs in the most 
erratic manner, as if all this nonsense could interest 
anybody but himself. There was something very 
irritating and un-English in the way he kept on 
relating his various adventures where he always 
seemed to turn out to have been the hero too much 
Ego in your Cosmos, young man, thought I. He 
seemed to think he knew everything, antique art, 
architecture, psychology, Death and Hereafter. 
Medicine seemed to be his special hobby, he said he 
was a nerve specialist and boasted of being a pupil 


of Charcot's as they all do. God help his patients, 
I said to myself. As he mentioned the name of the 
master of the Salpetriere I fancied for a moment 
that I had seen him before, long, long ago, but I 
soon dismissed the thought as absurd, for he looked 
so young and boisterous, and I felt so old and 
weary. His unceasing swagger, his very youth 
began to get on my nerves, and to make matters 
worse it soon dawned upon me that this young 
gentleman was making mild fun of me the whole 
time, as young people are apt to do with old people. 
He even tried to make me believe that it was he and 
not I who had built San Michele! He said he 
loved the place and was going to live there for ever. 
At last I told him to leave me alone and let me go 
on with my Story of San Michele and my descrip- 
tion of my precious marble fragments from the 
villa of Tiberius. 

"Poor old man," said the young fellow with 
his patronizing smile, "you are talking through 
your hat! I fear you cannot even read your own 
handwriting! It is not about San Michele and 
your precious marble fragments from the villa of 
Tiberius you have been writing the whole time, it is 
only some fragments of clay from your own broken 
life that you have brought to light." 




PREFACE ...... xv 

I YOUTH ....... 1 

GioiaThe Phoenician Steps Maria Porta-Lettere 
La Bella Margherita Don Dionisio's Wine In 
Mastro Vincenzo's Garden The Man in the Red 
Mantle The Bargain. 


H&tel de TAvenir The Implacable Foe The Eter- 
nal Sleeping-Draught Salle St. Claire Work, 
Work, Work! 


Colitis The Countess Faubourg St. Germain 
Loulou The Salvatore Family 


Monsieur PAbb6 Luck Asile St. Anne M6nag- 
erie Pezon Jack 

V PATIENTS ...... 57 

Dogs^Hydrophobia Pasteur The Moujlks The 
Norwegian Painter An Error of Diagnosis Vivi- 
sectionThe Monkey Doctor 


Diphtheria Walking Home Holidays The Bear 
Story The Skylark Vicomte Maurice In the 
Smoking-room The Village Doctor Spratfs Bis- 
cuits Romeo and Juliet Le Vieux Marcheur 
Back to Paris The Ghost The Pole Star 


Old Turi The Little People Lapland Dogs The 
Healer Ristin The Birch-root Box The Old Bear 
Two Stately Travellers Fog Uncle Lars and 
Mother Kerstin Those People they Call Thieves 
In the Cow-stable The Tallow Candle and the Gob- 
linNursery Recollections Six Hundred Years Old 
The Gold Box Night Visitors 'The Times' 



VIII NAPLES ...... 157 

Afraid The Street Scavengers Parmacia di San 
Gennaro Doctor Villari Osteria dell'Allegria II 
Convento delle Sepolte Vive The Patron Saint of 
the Eyes Suora UrsulaThe Abbess Death's 
Love Philtre 

IX BACK TO PAKIS ..... 179 

My Friend Norstrom On Women More on 
Women Mademoiselle Flopette 

In Heidelberg Off for a Holiday in Sweden The 
Russian General A Pleasant Journey Between 
Colleagues Visiting My Brother My First Em- 
balmmentThe Last Time I Ever Went to a Funeral 

XI MADAME REauiN ..... 2ll 
The Diamond Brooch 

XII THE GIANT ..... 215 

A Wedding Party Au Violon Two Collectors of 


The Tyrant at Home-The Swedish Chaplain- 
Colonel Staaff The Hero of Gravelotte 

Loulou Again Talking with M. l'Abb<$ Moonlight 

SL M ?S^ e S arlo Bois 3e St ' Cloud-Always Luck 
ine Ola Hat 

XV JOHN ...... 

Madame R^quin Again-The Blue-eyed Boy Jo^. 
s6phrne-Dismissing 6 Mamsell Agata-The M*Lot- 
Consultation in London-Hie Beautiful Lady-. 
Johns Nurse The Owner of the Diamond Brooch 


The Night Express to Cologne-Hamlet in Lund 

XVII DOCTOES ...... 276 

On Writing Bills Reforming Society Fees Some 
Famous Doctors-Rest Cure in SwitzeriSd- 
SpaUanzam's Experiment Back in Paris 




Guy de Maupassant In the Coulisses of the 
Opera St. Lazare and Maison Blanche Char- 
cot's Tuesday Lectures Genevieve Post-hyp- 
notic Suggestion Failure 

Hypnotic Suggestion Dangers of Hypnotism 


Massage Going to PiecesThe Doppelganger 


The Architect of San Michele The Overseer The 
Telegram -Good Friday The Swedish Minister 


In Keats' House Some of My Colleagues Billy 
and his Master 


Mrs. Jonathan Signor Cornacchia's Dilemma 
The Perambulator Another Fashionable Doctor 
Death and ThereafterThe Nursing Home by 
Porta Pia A Dangerous Rival 


The New Serum The Cheque for 1,000 The 
Protestant Cemetery The Pittsburgh Millionaire 
Mrs. Charles Washington Perkins, Jr. 


Monsieur Alphonse La Mere G&ierale The 
Gargoyle of Notre Dame 



Miss HALL ..... 

Giovannina and Rosina In Villa Borghese 
From Miss Hall's Diary On Decorations Mes- 
sina My Kind Host The Mafia Magna Graecia 
Demeter Mrs. Charles Washington Perkins, 
Jr., Again Fraulein Frida and Aunt Sally The 
Owl of Minerva The Finest View in Rome 









Home Again Inspecting San Michele The 
Banquet The Dream The Great Adventures 
While I Was Away Billy Don Giacinto Lying 
in State The Secular Enemy A Futurist 
Painter II Demonio 







Hie Protestants The Devil's Discovery The 
Nets The Wings of the Angels 


The Nursery in San Michele That Night on 


Ewiva il Santo! Ewiva la MusicaJ The Pro- 
cessionReception in San Michele Serenata 


The Blue Grotto Tiberius Damecuta Lord 
Dufferin's Relation The "Lady Victoria "The 
Saaroom The First of MJay Old Pacciale 

Schubert Spring 


The Last Stand The Golden Light II Canto 
del Sole-^Wolf The Eternal Sleeping Draught 
Thanatos Onwards ! Upwards ! The Aged 
Archangel The War II Poverello Botticelli's 
Madonna Arcangelo Fusco's Sunday Clothes 
The Hall of Osiris Habakkuk The Bells of 









I SPRANG from the Sorrento sailing-boat on 
to the little beach. Swarms of boys were 
playing about among the upturned boats or bath- 
ing their shining bronze bodies in the surf, and 
old fishermen in red Phrygian caps sat mending 
their nets outside their boat-houses. Opposite the 
landing-place stood half-a-dozen donkeys with sad- 
dles on their backs and bunches of flowers in their 
bridles, and around them chattered and sang as 
many girls with the silver spadella stuck through 
their black tresses and a red handkerchief tied across 
their shoulders. The little donkey who was to take 
me up to Capri was called Rosina, and the name of 
the girl was Gioia. Her black, lustrous eyes spar- 
kled with fiery youth, her lips were red like the 
string of corals round her neck, her strong white 
teeth glistened like a row of pearls in her merry 
laughter. She said she was fifteen and I said that 
I was younger than I had ever been. But Rosina 
was old, " e antica," said Gioia. So I slipped off 
the saddle and climbed leisurely up the winding 
path to the village. In front of me danced Gioia 
on naked feet, a wreath of flowers round her head, 
like a young Bacchante, and behind me staggered 
old Rosina in her dainty black shoes, with bent head 
and drooping ears, deep in thought. I had no time 



to think, my head was full of rapturous wonder, my 
heart full of the joy of life, the world was beautiful 
.and I was eighteen. We wound our way through 
bushes of ginestra and myrtle in full bloom, and 
here and there among the sweet-scented grass many 
small flowers I had never seen before in the land of 
Linnaeus, lifted their graceful heads to look at us 
as we passed. 

" What is the name of this flower? " said I to 
Gioia. She took the flower from my hand, looked 
At it lovingly and said: " Fiorel " 

" And what is the name of this one? " She 
looked at it with the same tender attention and 

" And how do you call this one? " 

"Fiore! Bellol Bello!" 

She picked a bunch of fragrant myrtle, but 
would not give it to me. She said the flowers were 
for S. Costanzo, the patron saint of Capri who was 
-all of solid silver and had done so many miracles, 
S. Costanzo, bello! bello! 

A long file of girls with tufa stones on their heads 
slowly advanced towards us in a stately procession 
like the caryatides from the Erechtheum. One of 
the girls gave me a friendly smile and put an orange 
into my hand. She was a sister of Gioia's and even 
more beautiful, thought I. Yes, they were eight 
sisters and brothers at home, and two were in Para- 
dise. Their father was away coral-fishing in " Bar- 
baria," look at the beautiful string of corals he had 
just sent her, "che bella collana! Bella! Bella!" 

" And you also are bella, Gioia, bella, bella! " 

"Yes," said she. 

My foot stumbled against a broken column of 


marble, "Roba di Timberio 1" explained Gioia. 
" Timberio cattivo, Timberio marocchio, Timberio 
camorrista! " * and she spat on the marble. 

" Yes," said I, my memory fresh from Tacitus 
and Suetonius, " Tiberio cattivo! " 

We emerged on the high road and reached the 
Piazza with a couple of sailors standing by the 
parapet overlooking the Marina, a few drowsy 
Capriotes seated in front of Don Antonio's osteria, 
and half-a-dozen priests on the steps leading to the 
church, gesticulating wildly in animated conversa- 
tion: "Moneta I Moneta! Molta moneta; Niente 
moneta! " Gioia ran up to kiss the hand of Don 
Giacinto who was her father confessor and un vero 
santo, though he did not look like one. She went 
to confession twice a month, how often did I go to 

Not at all! 

Cattivo! Cattivo! 

Would she tell Don Giacinto that I had kissed 
her cheeks under the lemon trees? 

Of course not. 

We passed through the village and halted at 
Punta Tragara. 

" I am going to climb to the top of that rock," 
said I, pointing to the most precipitous of the three 
Faraglioni glistening like amethysts at our feet. 
But Gioia was sure I could not do it. A fisherman 
who had tried to climb up there in search of sea- 
gulls' eggs had been hurled back into the sea by an 
evil spirit, who lived there in the shape of a blue 

1 The old emperor who lived the last eleven years of his life 
on the island of Capri and is still very much .alive on the lips of 
its inhabitants, is always spoken of as Timberio. 


lizard, as blue as the Blue Grotto, to keep watch 
over a golden treasure hidden there by Timberio 

Towering over the friendly little village the som- 
bre outline of Monte Solaro stood out against the 
Western sky with its stern crags and inaccessible 

" I want to climb that mountain at once," said L 

But Gioia did not like the idea at all. A steep 
path, seven hundred and seventy-seven steps, cut in 
the rock by Timberio himself led up the flank of the 
mountain, and half-way up in a dark cave lived a 
ferocious werewolf who had already eaten several 
cristiani. On the top of the stairs was Anacapri, 
but only gente di montagna lived there, all very bad 
people; no forestieri ever went there and she her- 
self had never been there. Much better climb to the 
Villa Timberio, or the Arco Naturale or the Grotta 

" No, I had no time, I must climb that mountain 
at once." 

Back to the Piazza, just as the rusty bells of the 
old campanile were ringing 12 o'clock to announce 
that the macaroni was ready. Wouldn't I at least 
have luncheon first under the big palm-tree of the 
Albergo Pagano. Tre piatti, vino a volont&, prezzo 
una lira. No, I had no time, I had to climb the 
mountain at once. "Addio, Gioia bella, bella! 
Addio Rosinal " " Addio, addio e presto ritorno! " 
Alas! for the presto ritorno! 

"E un pazzo inglese," were the last words I 
heard from Gioia's red lips as, driven by my fate, 
I sprang up the Phoenician steps to Anacapri. 
Half-way up I overtook an old woman with a huge 


basket full of oranges on her head. " Buon giorno, 
signorino." .She put down her basket and handed 
me an orange. On the top of the oranges lay a 
bundle of newspapers and letters tied up in a red 
handkerchief. It was old Maria Porta-Lettere who 
carried the post twice a week to Anacapri, later on 
my life-long friend, I saw her die at the age of 
ninety-five. She fumbled among the letters, selected 
the biggest envelope and begged me to tell her if it 
was not for Nannina la Crapara 1 who was eagerly 
expecting la lettera from her husband in America. 
No, it was not. Perhaps this one? No, it was for 
Signora Desdemona Vacca. 

" Signora Desdemona Vacca," repeated old 
Maria, incredulously. " Perhaps they mean la 
moglie dello Scarteluzzo," 2 she said meditatively. 
The next letter was for Signor Ulisse Desiderio. 
" I think they mean Capolimone," 3 said old Maria, 
" he had a letter just like this a month ago." The 
next letter was for Gentilissima Signorina Rosina 
Mazzarella. This lady seemed more difficult to 
trace. Was it la Cacciacavallara? 4 or la Zop- 
parella? 5 Or la Capatosta? 6 Or la Femmina 
Antica? 7 Or Rosinella Pane Asciutto? 8 Or 
perhaps la Fesseria? 9 suggested another woman 
who had just overtaken us with a huge basket of 
fish on her head. Yes, it might be for la Fesseria if 
it was not for la moglie di Pane e Cipolla. 10 But 
was there no letter for Peppinella Vcoppo u cam- 

1 " The Goat-woman." fl " The wife of the Hunchback." 

* " Lemonhead." * " The Cheese-woman." 

* " The lame Woman." ' " The Hardhead." 
7 " The Ancient Woman." * " Stale Bread." 

' Not for ears polite. M " The wife of Bread and Onions." 


posanto * or for Mariucella Caparossa * or for Gio- 
vannina Ammazzacane 3 who were all expecting la 
letter a from America? No, I was sorry there was 
not. The two newspapers were for II reverendo 
parroco Don Antonio di Giuseppe and II canonico 
Don Natale di Tommaso, she knew it well, for they 
were the only newspaper-subscribers in the village. 
The parroco was a very learned man and it was he 
who always found out who the letters were for, but 
to-day he was away in Sorrento on a visit to the 
Archbishop, and that was why she had asked me to 
read the envelopes. Old Maria did not know how 
old she was, but she knew that she had carried the 
post since she was fifteen when her mother had to 
give it up. Of course she could not read. When I 
had told her that I had sailed over that very morn- 
ing with the post-boat from Sorrento and had had 
nothing to eat since then, she gave me another 
orange which I devoured skin and all, and the other 
woman offered me at once from her basket some 
f rutta di mare which made me frightfully thirsty. 
Was there an inn in Anacapri? No, but Annar- 
ella, la moglie del sagrestano could supply me with 
excellent goat-cheese and a glass of excellent wine 
from the vineyard of the priest Don Dionisio, her 
uncle, un vino meraviglioso. Besides there was La 
Bella Margherita, of course I knew her by name 
and that her aunt had married " un lord inglese." 
No, I did not, but I was most anxious to know La 
Bella Margherita. 

We reached at last the top of the seven-hundred 
and seventy-seven steps, and passed through a 

1 " Above the Cemetery." 

'"Carrots." '"Kill-dog." 


vaulted gate with the huge iron hinges of its for- 
mer draw-bridge still fastened to the rock. We 
were in Anacapri. The whole bay of Naples lay 
at our feet encircled by Ischia, Procida, the pine- 
clad Posilipo, the glittering white line of Naples, 
Vesuvius with its rosy cloud of smoke, the Sor- 
rento plain sheltered under Monte Sant'Angelo 
and further away the Apennine mountains, still 
covered with snow. Just over our heads, riveted 
to the steep rock like an eagle's nest, stood a little 
ruined chapel. Its vaulted roof had fallen in, but 
huge blocks of masonry shaped into an unknown 
pattern of symmetrical network, still supported its 
crumbling walls. 

" Roba di Timberio," explained old Maria. 

"What is the name of the little chapel?" I 
asked eagerly. 

" San Michele." 

"San Michele, San Michele!" echoed in my 
heart. In the vineyard below the chapel stood an 
old man digging deep furrows in the soil for the 
new vines. " Buon giorno, Mastro Vincenzo ! " 
The vineyard was his and so was the little house 
close by, he had built it all with his own hands, 
mostly with stones and bricks of the Roba di Tim- 
berio that was strewn all over the garden. Maria 
Porta-Lettere told him all she knew about me and 
Mastro Vincenzo invited me to sit down in his gar- 
den and have a glass of wine. I looked at the little 
house and the chapel. My heart began to beat so 
violently that I could hardly speak. 

" I must climb there at once," said I to Maria 
Porta-Lettere! But old Maria said I had better 
come with her first to get something to eat or I 


would not find anything and driven by hunger and 
thirst I reluctantly decided to follow her advice. 
I waved my hand to Mastro Vincenzo and said I 
would come back soon. We walked through some 
empty lanes and stopped in a piazzetta. " Ecco 
La Bella Margherita! " 

La Bella Margherita put a flask of rose-coloured 
wine and a bunch of flowers on the table in her 
garden and announced that the " macaroni " would 
be ready in five minutes. She was fair like Titian's 
Flora, the modelling of her face exquisite, her pro- 
file pure Greek. She put an enormous plate of 
macaroni before me, and sat herself by my side 
watching me with smiling curiosity. "Vino del 
parroco," she announced proudly, each time she 
filled my glass. I drank the parroco's health, her 
health and that of her dark-eyed sister, la bella 
Giulia, who had joined the party, with a handful 
of oranges I had watched her picking from a tree 
in the garden. Their parents were dead and the 
brother Andrea was a sailor and God knows where 
he was but her aunt was living in her own villa in 
Capri, of course I knew that she had married im 
lord inglese? Yes, of course I knew, but I did 

not remember her name. " Lady G ," said La 

Bella Margherita proudly, I just remembered in 
time to drink her health, but after that I did not 
remember anything except that the sky overhead 
was blue like a sapphire, that the parroco's wine 
was red like a ruby, that La Bella Margherita. sat 
by my side with golden hair and smiling lips. 

"San Michele!" suddenly rang through my 
ears. " San Michele! " echoed deep down in my 


" Addio, BeUa Margherita! " " Addio e presto 
ritorno! " Alas for the presto ritorno! 

I walked back through the empty lanes steering 
as straight as I could for my goal. It was the 
sacred hour of the siesta, the whole little village 
was asleep. The piazza, all ablaze with sun, was 
deserted. The church was closed, only from the 
half -open door of the municipal school the sten- 
torian voice of the Rev. Canonico Don Natale 
trumpeted in sleepy monotony through the silence: 
" lo mi ammazzo, tu ti amazzi, egli si ammazza, 
noi ci ammazziamo, voi vi ammazzate, loro si am- 
mazzano," repeated in rhythmic chorus by a dozen 
barelegged boys, in a circle on the floor at the feet 
of their school master. 

Further down the lane stood a stately Roman 
matron. It was Annarella herself, beckoning me 
with a friendly waving of the hand to come in. 
WTiy had I gone to La Bella Margherita instead 
of to her? Did I not know that her cacciacavallo 
was the best cheese in all the village? And as for 
the wine, everybody knew that the parroco's wine 
was no match for that of the Rev. Don Dionisio. 
" Altro che il vino del parroco! " she added with 
a significant shrug of her strong shoulders. As I 
sat under her pergola in front of a flask of Don 
Dionisio's vino bianco it began to dawn upon me 
that maybe she was right, but I wanted to be fair 
and had to empty the whole flask before giving my 
final opinion. But when Gioconda, her smiling 
daughter, helped me to a second glass from the new 
flask I had made up my mind. Yes, Don Dionisio's 
vino bianco was the best! It looked like liquid sun- 
shine, it tasted like the nectar of the Gods, and 


Gioconda looked like? a young Hebe as she filled 
my empty glass. " Altro che il vino del parrocol 
Did I not tell you so," laughed Annarella. " E 
un vino miracoloso!" Miraculous indeed, for 
suddenly I began to speak fluent Italian with 
vertiginous volubility amid roars of laughter from 
mother and daughter. I was beginning to feel very 
friendly toward Don Dionisio; I liked his name, 
I liked his wine, I thought I would like to make his 
acquaintance. Nothing was easier, for he was to 
preach that evening to " le Figlie di Maria " in the 

" He is a very learned man," said Annarella. 
He knew by heart the names of all the martyrs 
and all the saints and had even been to Rome to 
kiss the hand of the Pope. Had she been to 
Rome? No. And to Naples? No. She had 
been to Capri once, it was on her wedding day, but 
Gioconda had never been there, Capri was full of 
" gente malainente." I told Annarella I knew of 
course all about their patron saint, how many 
miracles he had done and how beautiful he was, 
all of solid silver. There was an uncomfortable 

" Yes, they say their San Costanzo is of solid 
silver," ejaculated Annarella with a contemptible 
shrug of her broad shoulders, "but who knows, 
chi lo sa? " As to his miracles you could count 
them 'on the top of your fingers, while Sant* 
Antonio, the patron saint of Anacapri had already 
done over a hundred. Altro che San Costanzo! 
I was at once all for Sant' Antonio, hoping with 
all my heart for a new miracle of his to bring me 
back as soon as possible to his enchanting village. 


Kind Annarella's confidence in the miraculous 
power of Sant' Antonio was so great that she re- 
fused point-blank to accept any money. 

" Pagherete un'altra volta, you will pay me an- 
other time." 

" Addio Annarella, addio Gioconda! " 

" Arrividerla, presto ritorno, Sant' Antonio vi 
benedical La Madonna vi accompagnil " 

Old Mastro Vincenzo was still hard at work 
in his vineyard, digging deep furrows in the 
sweet-scented soil for the new vines. Now and 
then he picked up a slab of coloured marble or a 
piece of red stucco and threw it over the wall, 
*Roba di Timberio,' said he. I sat down on a 
broken column of red granite by the side of my 
new friend. Era molto duro, it was very hard 
to break, said Mastro Vincenzo. At my feet a 
chicken was scratching in the earth in search of 
a worm and before my very nose appeared a coin. 
I picked it up and recognized at a glance the 
noble head of Augustus, c Divus Augustus Pater/ 
Mastro Vincenzo said it was not worth a baiocco, 
I have it still. He had made the garden all by 
himself and had planted all the vines and fig- 
trees with his own hands. Hard work, said 
Mastro Vincenzo showing me his large, horny 
hands, for the whole ground was full of roba di 
Timberio, columns, capitals, fragments of statues 
and teste di cristiani, and he had to dig up and 
carry away all this rubbish before he could plant 
his vines. The columns he had split into garden 
steps and of course he had been able to utilize 
many of the marbles when he was building his 
house and the rest he had thrown over the 


precipice. A piece of real good luck had been 
when quite unexpectedly he had come upon a 
large subterranean room just under his house, 
with red walls just like that piece there under the 
peach tree all painted with lots of stark naked 
cristiani, tutti spogliati, ballando come dei pazzi, 1 
with their hands full of flowers and bunches of 
grapes. It took him several days to scrape off 
all these paintings and cover the wall with 
cement, but this was small labour compared to 
what it would have meant to blast the rock and 
build a new cistern, said Mastro Vincenzo with a 
cunning smile. Now he was getting old and 
hardly able to look after his vineyard any more, 
and his son who lived on the mainland with 
twelve children and three cows wanted him to 
sell the house and come and live with him. 
Again my heart began to beat. Was the chapel 
also his? No, it belonged to nobody and people 
said it was haunted by ghosts. He himself had 
seen when he was a boy a tall monk leaning over 
the parapet and some sailors coming up the steps 
late one night had heard bells ringing in the 
chapel. The reason for this, explained Mastro 
Vincenzo, was that when Timberio had his 
palace there he had fatto ammazzare Gesu 
Cristo, put Jesus Christ to death, and since then 
his damned soul came back now and then to ask 
forgiveness from the monks who were buried 
under the floor in the chapel. People also said 
that he used to come there in the shape of a big 
black snake. The monks had been ammazzati 
by a brigand called Barbarossa, who had boarded 

1 All naked, dancing like mad people. 


the island with his ships and carried away into 
slavery all the women who had taken refuge up 
there in the castle overhead, that is why it was 
called Castello Barbarossa. Padre Anselmo, the 
hermit, who was a learned man and besides a rela- 
tion of his, had told him all this and also about 
the English who had turned the chapel into a for- 
tress and who in their turn had been ammazzati by 
the French. 

" Look! " said Mastro Vincenzo, pointing to a 
heap of bullets near the garden wall and " look " 
he added, picking up an English soldier's brass 
button. The French, he continued, had placed 
a big gun near the chapel, and had opened fire 
on the village of Capri held by the English. 
"Well done," he chuckled. "The Capresi are 
all bad people/' Then the French had turned 
the chapel into a powder magazine, that was 
why it was still called La Polveriera. Now it 
was nothing but a ruin, but it had proved very 
useful to him, for he had taken most of his stones 
for his garden walls from there. 

I climbed over the wall and walked up the 
narrow lane to the chapel. The floor was covered 
to a man's height with the debris of the fallen 
vault, the walls were covered with ivy and wild 
honeysuckle and hundreds of lizards played mer- 
rily about among big bushes of myrtle and rose- 
mary stopping now and then in their game to look 
at me with lustrous eyes and panting breasts. An 
owl rose on noiseless wings from a dark corner, 
and a large snake asleep on the sunlit mosaic floor 
of the terrace, unfolded slowly his black coils and 
glided back into the chapel with a warning hiss at 


the intruder. Was it the ghost of the sombre old 
Emperor still haunting the ruins where his imperial 
villa once stood? 

I looked down at the beautiful island at my 
feet. How could he live in such a place and be 
so cruel! thought I. How could his soul be so 
dark with such a glorious light on Heaven and 
Earth! How could he ever leave this place, to 
retire to that other even more inaccessible villa of 
his on the eastern cliffs, which still bears his name 
and where he spent the last three years of his 

To live in such a place as this, to die in such a 
place, if ever death could conquer the everlasting 
joy of such a life! What daring dream had made 
my heart beat so violently a moment ago when 
Mastro Vincenzo had told me that he was getting 
old and tired, and that his son wanted him to 
sell his house? What wild thoughts had flashed 
through my boisterous brain when he had said that 
the chapel belonged to nobody? Why not to me? 
Why should I not buy Mastro Vincenzo's house, 
and join the chapel and the house with garlands of 
vines and avenues of cypresses and columns sup- 
porting white loggias, peopled with marble statues 
of gods and bronzes of emperors and . * . I closed 
my eyes, lest the beautiful vision should vanish, and 
gradually realities faded away into the twilight of 

A tall figure wrapped in a rich mantle stood by 
my side. 

" It shall all be yours," he said in a melodious 
voice, waving his hand across the horizon. " The 
chapel, the garden, the house, the mountain with 


its castle, all shall be yours, if you are willing to 
pay the price! " 

" Who are you, phantom from the unseen? " 

" I am the immortal spirit of this place. Time 
has no meaning for me. Two thousand years 
ago I stood here where we now stand by the side 
of another man, led here by his destiny as you 
have been led here by yours. He did not ask 
for happiness as you do, he only asked for f orget- 
f ulness and peace, and he believed he could find it 
here on this lonely island. I told him the price 
he would have to pay: the branding of an untar- 
nished name with infamy through all ages. 

" He accepted the bargain, he paid the price. 
For eleven years he lived here surrounded by a few 
trusty friends, all men of honour and integrity. 
Twice he started on his way to return to his palace 
on the Palatine Hill. Twice his courage failed 
him, Rome never saw him again. He died on his 
homeward journey in the villa of his friend Lucul- 
lus on the promontory over there. His last words 
were that he should be carried down in his litter to 
the boat that was to take him to his island home." 

" What is the price you ask of me? " 

"The renunciation of your ambition to make 
yourself a name in your profession, the sacrifice 
of your future." 

" What then am I to become? " 

" A Might-Have-Been, a failure." 

" You take away from me all that is worth liv- 
ing for." 

" You are mistaken, I give you all that is worth 
living for." 

"Will you at least leave me pity. I cannot 


live without pity if I am to become a doctor." 

" Yes, I will leave you pity, but you would have 
fared much better without it." 

" Do you ask for anything more? " 

" Before you die, you will have to pay another 
price as well, a heavy price. But before this 
price is due, you will have watched for many years 
from this place the sun set over cloudless days of 
happiness and the moon rise over starlit nights of 

"Shall I die here?" 

"Beware of searching for the answer to your 
question, man could not endure life if he was aware 
of -the hour of his death." 

He laid his hand on my shoulder, I felt a slight 
shiver run through my body. " I shall be with 
you once more at this place when the sun has 
set to-morrow; you may think it over till then." 

" It is no good thinking it over, my holiday is 
at an end, this very night I have to return to my 
every day's toil far away from this beautiful land. 
Besides I am no good at thinking. I accept the 
bargain, I will pay the price, be it what it may. 
But how am I to buy this house, my hands are 

" Your hands are empty but they are strong, 
your brain is boisterous but clear, your will is 
sound, you will succeed." 

" How am I to build my house? I know nothing 
about architecture." 

"I will help you. What style do you want? 
Why not Gothic? I rather like the Gothic with its 
subdued light and its haunting mystery." 

" I am going to invent a style of my own, such 


that not even you shall be able to give it a name. 
No mediaeval twilight for me! I want my house 
open to sun and wind and the voice of the sea, 
like a Greek temple, and light, light, light every- 

"Beware of the light! Beware of the light I 
Too much light is not good for the eyes of mortal 


" I want columns of priceless marble, support- 
ing loggias and arcades, beautiful fragments from 
past ages strewn all over my garden, the chapel 
turned into a silent library with cloister stalls round 
the walls and sweet sounding bells ringing Ave 
Maria over each happy day." 

" I do not like bells." 

" And here where we stand with this beautiful 
island rising like a sphinx out of the sea below our 
feet, here I want a granite sphinx from the land 
of the Pharaohs. But where shall I find it all! " 

" You stand upon the site of one of Tiberio's 
villas. Priceless treasures of bygone ages lie buried 
under the vines, under the chapel, under the house. 
The old emperor's foot has trod upon the slabs of 
coloured marble you saw the old peasant throw 
over the wall of his garden, the ruined fresco with 
its dancing fawns and the flower-crowned bac- 
chantes once adorned the walls of his palace. 
Look," said he, pointing down to the clear depths 
of the sea a thousand feet below. " Didn't your 
Tacitus tell you at school that when the news of 
the Emperor's death had reached the island, his 
palaces were hurled into the sea? " 

I wanted to leap down the precipitous cliffs at 
once and plunge into the sea in search of my 


columns. " No need for such a hurry/' he laughed, 
" for two thousand years the corals have been spin- 
ning their cobwebs round them and the waves have 
buried them deeper and deeper in the sand, they 
will wait for you till your time comes." 

"And the sphinx? Where shall I find the 
sphinx? " 

" On a lonely plain, far away from the life of 
to-day, stood once the sumptuous villa of another 
Emperor, who had brought the sphinx from the 
banks of the Nile to adorn his garden. Of the 
palace nothing remains but a heap of stones, but 
deep in the bowels of the earth still lies the sphinx. 
Search and you will find her. It will nearly cost 
you your life to bring it here, but you will do it." 

" You seem to know the future as well as you 
know the past." 

" The past and the future are all the same to 
me. I know everything." 

" I do not envy you your knowledge." 

" Your words are older than your years, where 
did you get that saying from? " 

" From what I have learned on this island to- 
day, for I have learned that this friendly folk who 
can neither read nor write are far happier than 
I, who ever since I was a child have been straining 
my eyes to gain knowledge. And so have you, 
I gather from your speech. You are a great 
scholar, you know your Tacitus by heart." 

" I am a philosopher." 

" You know Latin well? " 

" I am a doctor of theology from the university 
of Jena." 

"Ah! that is why I fancied I detected a slight 


German twang in your voice. You know Ger- 
many? " 

"Rather," he chuckled. 

I looked at him attentively. His manners and 
bearings were those of a gentleman, I noticed for 
the first time that he carried a sword under his red 
mantle and there was a harsh sound in his voice 
I seemed to have heard before. 

" Pardon me, sir, I think we have already met 
in the Auerbach Keller in Leipzig, isn't your 
name? . . ," As I spoke the words, the church 
bells from Capri began to ring Ave Maria. I 
turned my head to look at him. He was gone. 



OUARTIER, LATIN. A student's room in 
the Hotel de 1'Avenir, piles of books every- 
where, on tables, chairs and in heaps on the floor, 
and on the wall a faded photograph of Capri. 
Mornings in the wards of La Salpetriere, Hotel- 
Dieu and La Pitie, going from bed to bed to read 
chapter after chapter in the book of human suf- 
fering, written with blood and tears. Afternoons 
in the dissecting rooms and amphitheatres of 
TlScole de Medecine.or in the laboratories of the 
Institut Pasteur, watching in the microscope with 
wondrous eyes the mystery of the unseen world, 
the infinitely small beings, arbiters of the life and 
death of man. Nights of vigil in the Hotel de 
TAvenir, precious nights of toil to master the hard 
facts, the classical signs of disorder and disease 
collected and sifted by observers from all lands, 
so necessary and so insufficient for the making of 
a doctor. Work, work, work! Summer holidays 
with empty cafes in Boulevard St. Michel, iScole 
de Medecine closed, laboratories and amphi- 
theatres deserted, clinics half-empty. But no 
holiday for suffering in the hospital wards, no 
holiday for Death. No holiday in the H6tel de 
TAvenir. No distraction but an occasional stroll 
under the lime-trees of the Luxembourg Gardens, 



or a greedily enjoyed hour of leisure in the Louvre 
Museum. No friends. No dog. Not even a mis- 
tress. Henri Murger's "Vie de BoMme" was 
gone, but his Mimi was still there, very much so, 
smilingly strolling down the Boulevard St. Michel 
on the arm of almost every student, when the hour 
for the aperitif was approaching, or mending his 
coat or washing his linen in his garret while he 
was reading for his exam. 

No Mimi for me! Yes, they could afford to 
take it easy, these happy comrades of mine, to 
spend their evenings in idle gossip at the tables 
of their cafes, to laugh, to live, to love. Their 
subtle Latin brain was far quicker than mine, and 
they had no faded photograph of Capri on the wall 
of their garret to spur them on, no columns of 
precious marble waiting for them under the sand 
at Palazzo al Mare. Often during the long wake- 
ful nights, as I sat there in the Hotel de FAvenir, 
my head bent over Charcot's * Maladies du Sys- 
teme Nerveux/ or Trousseaux's c Clinique de 
THotel Dieu,' a terrible thought flashed suddenly 
through my brain: Mastro Vincenzo is old, fancy 
if he should die while I am sitting here or sell to 
somebody else the little house on the cliff, which 
holds the key to my future home I An ice-cold 
perspiration burst out on my forehead and my 
heart stood almost still with fear. I stared at 
the faded photograph of Capri on the wall, I 
thought I saw it fade away more and more 
into dimness, mysterious and sphinx-like till noth- 
ing remained but the outline of a sarcophagus, 
under which lay buried a dream. . . . Then rub- 
bing my aching eyes, I plunged into my book 


again with frantic fury, like a race-horse spurred 
on towards his goal with bleeding flanks. Yes, 
it became a race, a race for prizes and trophies. 
My comrades began to bet on me as an easy 
winner, and even the Master with the head of a 
Caesar and the eye of an eagle mistook me for a 
rising man the only error of diagnosis I ever 
knew Professor Charcot commit during years of 
watchful observation of his unerring judgment 
in the wards of his Salpetriere or in his consulting- 
room at Boulevard St. Germain, thronged with 
patients from all the world. It cost me dearly 
this mistake of his. It cost me my sleep, and it 
nearly cost me the sight of my eyes. This ques- 
tion is not settled yet for the matter of that. Such 
was my faith in the infallibility of Charcot who 
knew more than, any living man about the human 
brain that for a short time I believed he was right. 
Spurred by ambition to fulfil his prophecy, in- 
sensible to fatigue, to sleep, even to hunger, I 
strained every fibre of mind and body to breaking- 
point in an effort to win at all costs. No more 
walks under the lime-trees of the Luxembourg 
Gardens, no more strolls in the Louvre. From 
morning till night my lungs filled with the foul 
air of the hospital wards and the amphitheatres, 
from night till morning with the smoke of endless 
cigarettes in my stuffy room at the H6tel de 
TAvenir. Exam after exam in rapid succession, 
far too rapid, alas, to be of any value, success after 
success. Work, work, work! I was to take my 
degree in the spring. Luck in everything my hand 
touched, never failing, amazing, almost uncanny 
luck. Already I had learned to know the struc- 


ture of the marvellous machinery which is the 
human body, the harmonious working of its cogs 
and wheels in health, its disorders in disease and 
its final breaking-down in death. Already I had 
become familiar with most of the afflictions which 
chained the sufferers in the wards to their beds. 
Already I had learned to handle the sharp edged 
weapons of surgery, to fight on more equal terms 
the implacable Foe, who, scythe in hand, wandered 
His rounds in the wards, always ready to slay, 
always at hand any hour of the day or of the night. 
In fact He seemed to have taken up His abode 
there for good in the grim old hospital, which for 
centuries had sheltered so much suffering and 
woe. Sometimes He came rushing through the 
ward, striking right and left, young and old, in 
blind fury like a madman, throttling one victim 
with the slow grip of His hand, and tearing away 
the bandage from the gaping wound of another 
till his last drop of blood had oozed away. Some- 
times He came on tiptoe, silent and still, closing 
with an almost gentle touch of His finger the eyes 
of another sufferer, who lay there almost smiling 
after He had gone. Often, I who was there to 
hinder His approach did not even know He was 
coming. Only small children at their mother's 
breast knew of His presence and started in their 
sleep with a sharp cry of distress as He passed 
by. And as often as not one of the old nuns, 
who had spent a lifetime in the wards, saw Him 
coming just in time to put a crucifix on the bed. 
At first, when He stood there, victorious,' on one 
side of the bed and I, helpless, on the other, I 
used to take little notice of Him. Life was every- 


thing to me then, I knew that my mission was at 
an end when His had begun, and I only used to 
turn my face away from my sinister colleague in 
resentment at my defeat. But as I became more 
familiar with Him, I began to watch Him with 
increasing attention, and the more I saw of Him, 
the more I wanted to know Him, to understand 
Him. I began to realize that He had his share 
in the work, as well as I had mine, His mission 
to fulfil just as I had mine, that we were com- 
rades after all, that when the wrestling over a life 
was over and He had won, it was far better to 
look each other fearlessly in the face and be friends. 
Later on, there even came a time when I thought 
He was my only friend, when I longed for Him 
and almost loved Him, though He never seemed 
to take any notice of me. What could He not 
teach me if I only could learn to read His sombre 
face! What gaps in my scanty knowledge of 
human suffering could He not fill, He who alone 
had read the last missing chapter in my medical 
handbooks, where everything is explained, the so- 
lution offered to every riddle, the answer given to 
every question! 

But how could He be so cruel, He who could 
be so gentle? How could He take away so much 
of youth and life with one hand, when He could 
give so much peace and happiness with the other? 
Why was the grip pf His hand round the throat 
of one of His victims so slow and the blow He 
dealt to another so swift? Why did He struggle 
so long with the life of the little child, while He 
suffered the life of the old to ebb away in merciful 
sleep? Was it His mission to punish as well as 


to slay? Was He the Judge as well as the Exe- 
cutioner? What did He do with those He had 
slain? Had they ceased to exist or were they only 
asleep? Whither did He take them? Was He 
the Supreme Ruler of the Kingdom of Death or 
was He only a vassal, a mere tool in the hands of 
a far mightier ruler, the Ruler of Life? He had 
won to-day, but was His victory to be final? Who 
would conquer in the end, He or Life? 

But was it really so that my mission was at an 
end when His was to begin? Was I to be an 
impassive spectator of the last unequal battle, to 
stand by helpless and insensible, while He was 
doing His work of destruction? Was I to turn 
my face away from those eyes who implored my 
help, long after the power of speech had gone? 
Was I to loosen my hand from those quivering 
fingers who clung to mine like a drowning man 
to a straw? I was defeated, but I was not dis- 
armed, I had still in my hands a powerful weapon. 
Tie had his eternal sleeping-draught but I had 
also mine entrusted to me by benevolent Mother 
Nature. When he was slow in dealing out His 
remedy, why should not I deal out mine with its 
merciful power to change anguish into peace, 
agony into sleep? Was it not my mission to help 
those to die I could not help to live? 

The old nun had told me that I was committing 
a terrible sin, that Almighty God in His inscru- 
table wisdom had willed it so, that the more suffer- 
ing He inflicted at the hour of death, the more 
forgiving would He be on the Day of Judgment. 
Even sweet Soeur Philomene had looked at me 
disapprovingly when, alone among my comrades, 


I had come with my morphia syringe after the 
old padre had left the bed with his Last Sacra- 

They were still there in their big white cornets, 
in all the hospitals of Paris, the gentle, all-sacri- 
ficing sisters of St. Vincent de Paul. The crucifix 
was still hanging on the wall of every ward, the 
padre still read mass every morning before the 
little altar in Salle St. Claire. The Mother Su- 
perior, Ma Mere as they all called her, still went 
her round from bed to bed every evening after the 
Ave Maria had rung. 

La Laicisation des Hopitaux was not yet the 
burning question of the day, the raucous cry of: 
"away with the priests! away with the crucifix! 
a la porte les soeursl" had not yet been raised. 
Alas! I saw them all go ere long and a pity it 
was. No doubt they had their faults, these nuns. 
No doubt they were more familiar with handling 
their rosaries than the nail-brush, more used to 
dip their fingers in holy water than in carbolic 
acid solution, then the all-powerful panacea in our 
surgical wards, soon to be replaced by another. 
But their thoughts were so clean, their hearts so 
pure, they gave their whole life to their work and 
asked for nothing in return but to be allowed to 
pray for those under their care. Even their worst 
enemies have never dared to belittle their all-sacri- 
ficing devotion and their all-enduring patience. 
People used to say that the sisters went about their 
work with sad, sullen faces, their thoughts more 
occupied with the salvation of the soul than that 
of the body, with more words of resignation than 
of hope on their lips. Indeed, they were greatly 


mistaken. On the contrary, these nuns, young and 
old, were invariably cheerful and happy, almost 
gay and full of childish fun and laughter, and it 
was wonderful to watch the way they knew how 
to communicate their happiness to others. They 
were also tolerant. Those who believed and those 
who did not, were all the same to them. If any- 
thing they seemed even more anxious to help the 
latter, for they felt so sorry for them and showed 
no signs of resentment even for their curses and 
blasphemies. To me they were all wonderfully 
kind and friendly. They well knew that I did not 
belong to their creed, that I did not go to con- 
fession and that I did not make the sign of the 
cross when I passed before the little altar. At 
first the Mother Superior had made some timid 
attempts to convert me to the faith which had 
made her sacrifice her life for others, but she had 
soon given it up with a compassionate shaking of 
her old head. Even the dear old padre had lost 
all hope of my salvation since I told him I was 
willing to discuss with him the possibility of a pur- 
gatory, but point-blank refused to believe in hell, 
and that in any case I was determined to give 
morphia in full dose to the dying when their agony 
was too cruel and too long. The old padre was 
a saint but argumentation was not his strong point 
and we soon abandoned these controversial ques- 
tions altogether* He knew the life of all the saints, 
and it was he who told me for the first time the 
sweet legend of St. Claire, who had given her 
name to the ward. It was also he who made me 
behold for the first time the wonderful features 
of her beloved St. Francis of Assisi, the friend 


of all humble and forlorn creatures of sky and 
earth, who was to become my lifelong friend as 
well. But it was Soeur Philomene, so young and 
fair in her white robe of novice of Soeur St. Augus- 
tin, who taught me most, for she taught me to 
love her Madonna, whose features she wore. 
Sweet Soeur Philomene! I saw her die of cholera 
a couple of years later in Naples. Not even Death 
dared disfigure her. She went to Heaven just as 
she was. 

The Frere Antoine who came to the hospital 
every Sunday to play the organ in the little chapel 
was a particular friend of mine. It was the only 
chance I had those days to hear any music and 
I seldom missed being there, I who am so fond 
of music! Although I could not see the sisters 
where they sat singing near the altar, I recognized 
quite well the clear, pure voice of Soeur Philo- 
mene. The very day before Christmas Frere 
Antoine caught a bad chill, and a great secret was 
whispered from bed to bed in the Salle St. 
Claire that after a long consultation between the 
Mother Superior and the old padre I had been 
allowed to replace him at the organ to save the 

The only other music I ever heard those days 
was when poor old Don Gaetano came to play to 
me twice a week on his worn-out barrel-organ 
under my balcony in the Hotel de TAvenir. The 
" Miserere " from the " Trovatore " was his show- 
piece, and the melancholy old tune suited him 
well, both him and his half -frozen little mon* 
key, who crouched on the barrel-organ in her red 


Ah che la morte ogn'ora 
tarda nel venir 1 

It suited equally well poor old Monsieur Alfredo 
who wandered about the snow-covered streets in 
his threadbare frockcoat, with the manuscript of 
his last tragedy under his arms. Equally well 
my friends in the Italian poor quarter huddled 
together round their half -extinguished bradero 
with no money to buy a half -penny worth of char- 
coal to keep themselves warm. There caine days 
too, when the sad melody seemed just the right 
accompaniment to my own thoughts as well; when 
I sat before my books in the Hotel de I'Avenir 
with no courage left to face a new day, when 
everything seemed so black and hopeless and the 
faded old photograph of Capri so far away. Then 
I used to throw myself on the bed and close my 
aching eyes, and soon Sant' Antonio set to work 
to perform another miracle. Soon I was sailing 
away from all my worries to the enchanting island 
of my dreams. Gioconda handed me smilingly a 
glass of Don Dionisio's wine, and once more the 
blood began to flow, rich and strong, through my 
tired brain. The world was beautiful and I was 
young, ready to fight, sure to win. Mastro Vin- 
cenzo, still hard at work amongst his vines, waved 
his hand at me as I walked up the little lane behind 
his garden to the chapel. I sat for a while on 
the terrace and looked down spellbound on the 
fair island at my feet, just wondering how on earth 
I should manage to drag up my sphinx of red 
granite to the top of the cliff. Indeed, it would 
be a difficult job, but of course I would do it quite 


easily, all by myself! "Addio bella Gioconda! 
Addio e presto ritorno! " Yes, of course I would 
come back soon, very soon, in my next dream! 
The new day came and looked hard at the dreamer 
through the window. I opened my eyes and sprang 
to my feet, and greeting the new-comer with a 
smile I sat down again at my table, book in hand. 
Then came spring and dropped the first twig of 
chestnut flowers on my balcony from the budding 
trees of the avenue. It was the signal. I went 
up for my exam and left the Hotel de 1'Avenir 
with the hard-won diploma in my pocket, the 
youngest M.D. ever created in France* 



2\ from 2 till 3. 

Door-bell ringing and messages coming day and 
night with urgent letters and calls. Telephone, 
that deadly weapon in the hands of idle women, 
not yet started on its nerve-racking campaign 
against every hour of well-earned rest. Consul- 
tation-room rapidly filling up with patients of all 
sorts and descriptions, mostly nervous cases, the 
fair sex in the majority. Many were ill, seriously 
ill. I listened gravely to what they had to say 
and examined them as carefully as I could, quite 
sure I could help them, whatever was the matter. 
Of these cases I do not feel inclined to speak 
here. A day may come when I may have some- 
thing to say about them. Many were not ill at 
all, 'and might never have become so, had they 
not consulted me. . Many imagined they were ill. 
They had the longest tale to tell, talked about their 
grandmother, their aunt or mother-in-law, or pro- 
duced from their pockets a little paper and began 
to read out an interminable list of symptoms and 
complaints le malade au petit papier, as Charcot 
used to say. All this was new to me, who had 
no experience outside the hospitals, where there 
was no time for any nonsense, and I made many 



blunders. Later on, when I began to know more 
of human nature, I learned to handle these pa- 
tients a little better, but we never got on very 
well together. They seemed quite upset when I 
told them that they looked rather well and their 
complexion was good, but they rallied rapidly when 
I added that their tongue looked rather bad as 
seemed generally to be the case. My diagnosis, 
in most of these cases was over-eating, too many 
cakes or sweets during the day or too heavy din- 
ners at night. It was probably the most correct 
diagnosis I ever made in those days, but it met 
with no success. Nobody wanted to hear anything 
more about it, nobody liked it. What they .all 
liked was appendicitis. Appendicitis was just then 
much in demand among better-class people on 
the look-out for a complaint. All the nervous 
ladies had got it on the brain if not in the abdo- 
men, thrived on it beautifully, and so did their 
medical advisers. So I drifted gradually into 
appendicitis and treated a great number of such 
cases with varied success. But when the rumour 
began to circulate that the American surgeons had 
started on a campaign to cut out every appendix 
in the United States, my cases of appendicitis be- 
gan to fall off in an alarming way. Consterna- 

"Take away the appendix! my appendix!" 
said the fashionable ladies, clinging desperately to 
their processus vermicularis, like a mother to her 
infant. " What shall I do without it! " 

" Take away their appendices, my appendices! " 
said the doctors, consulting gloomily the list of 
their patients. "I never heard such nonsense! 


Why, there is nothing wrong with their appen- 
dices, I ought to know, I who have to examine 
them twice a week. I am dead against it! " 

It soon became evident that appendicitis was 
on its last legs, and that a new complaint had to 
be discovered to meet the general demand. The 
Faculty was up to the mark, a new disease was 
dumped on the market, a new word was coined, 
a gold coin indeed, COLITIS 1 It was a neat 
complaint, safe from the surgeon's knife, always 
at hand when wanted, suitable to everybody's taste. 
Nobody knew when it came, nobody knew when 
it went away. I knew that several of my far- 
sighted colleagues had already tried it on their 
patients with great success, but so far my luck 
had been against me. 1 

One of my last cases of appendicitis was, I 
think, the Countess who came to consult me, on 
the recommendation of Charcot, as she said. He 
used to send me patients now and then and I was 
of course most anxious to do my very best for 
her, even had she not been as pretty as she was. 
She looked at the young oracle with ill-concealed 
disappointment in her large, languid eyes and said 
she wished to speak to "Monsieur le Docteur 
lui-meme " and not to his assistant, a first greet- 
ing I was accustomed to from a new patient. At 
first she did not know if she had appendicitis, nor 
did Monsieur le Docteur lui-meme, but soon she 

1 Colitis, as this word is used now, was not known in those 
days. -Many sins have been committed both by doctors and 
patients in the name of colitis during the early stage of its 
brilliant career. Even to-day there is not seldom something 
vague and unsatisfactory about this diagnosis. 


was sure that she had it, and I that she had not. 
When I told her so with unwise abruptness she 
became very agitated. Professor Charcot had told 
her I was sure to find out what was the matter 
with her and that I would help her, and instead 
of that , . . she burst into tears and I felt very 
sorry for her. 

"What is the matter with me?" she sobbed, 
stretching out her two empty hands towards me 
with a gesture of despair. 

" I will tell you if you promise to be calm." 
She ceased to cry instantly. Wiping the last 
tears from her big eyes she said bravely: 

" I can stand anything, I have already stood so 
much, don't be afraid, I am not going to cry any 
more. What is the matter with me? " 
" Colitis." 

Her eyes grew even larger than before, though 
I would have thought that to be impossible. 

"Colitis! That is exactly what I always 
thought! I am sure you are right! Colitis! 
Tell me what is Colitis? " I took good care to 
avoid that question, for I did not know it myself, 
nor did anybody else in those days. But I told 
her it lasted long and was difficult to cure, and I 
was right there. The Countess smiled amiably 
at me. And her husband who said it was nothing 
but nerves! She said there was no time to lose 
and wanted to begin the cure at once, so it was 
arranged she should come to Avenue de Villiers 
twice a week. She returned the very next day, 
and even I who was already getting accustomed 
to sudden changes in my patients could not help 
being struck by her cheerful appearance and bright 


face, so much so that I asked her how old she was. 

She was just twenty-five. She only came to ask 
me if colitis was catching. 

Yes, very. The word was hardly out of my 
mouth before I discovered that this young person 
was far cleverer than I. 

Wouldn't I tell the Count it was safer they 
shouldn't sleep in the same room? 

I assured her it was not at all safer, that although 
I had not the honour to know Monsieur le Comte, 
I felt sure he would not catch it It was only 
catching with impressionable and highly-strung 
people like herself. 

Surely I would not call her highly-strung, she 
objected, her big eyes wandering restlessly round 
the room? . . . 

Yes, decidedly. 

Could I not cure her of that? 



Fancy my dear, I have got colitis ! I am so glad ... so 
glad you recommended me this Suedois, or was it Charcot? In 
any case I told him it was Charcot, to make sure he would give 
me more time and attention. You are right, he is very clever, 
though he does not look like it. I am already recommending 
Tifrn to all my friends, I am sure he can do any amount of good 
to my sister-in-law who is still on her back after her nasty fall 
at your cotillon, I am sure she has got colitis ! Sorry, my dear, 
we shall not meet at Josephine's dinner to-morrow, I have 
already written to her I have got colitis, and can't possibly 
come. I wish she could put it off till after to-morrow. 

Your loving JUIJETTE. 

P.S. It just struck me that the Suedois ought to have a look 
at your mother-in-law, who is so worried about her deafness, of 
course I know the Marquise doesn't want to see any more do 


tors, and who does ! but could it not be arranged that he saw 
her in some sort of unofficial way? I would not at all be sur- 
prised if the root of it all was colitis. 

P.S. I would not mind asking the doctor to dinner here one 
day if you could persuade the Marquise to dine here, en petit 
comite", of course. Do you know he discovered I had colitis 
only by looking at me through his spectacles ? Besides, I want 
my husband to make his acquaintance, though he does not like 
doctors more than does your mother-in-law. I am sure he will 
like this one." 

A week later I had the unexpected honour to be 
invited to dinner at the Countess' hotel in Fau- 
bourg St. Germain, and to sit next to the Dowager 
Marquise, respectfully watching her with my eagle 
eye while she devoured an enormous plate of pate 
de foie gras in majestic aloofness. She never said 
a word to me, and my timid attempts to open a 
conversation came to a standstill when I discovered 
that she was stone-deaf. After dinner Monsieur 
le Comte took me to the smoking-room. He was 
a most polite little man, very fat, with a placid, 
almost shy face, at least twice the age of his wife, 
every inch a gentleman. Offering me a cigarette, 
he said with great effusion: 

" I cannot thank you enough for having cured 
my wife of appendicitis the very word is hateful 
to me. I frankly confess I have taken a great 
dislike to doctors. I have seen so many of them 
and so far none seems to have been able to do my 
wife any good, though I must add she never gave 
any of them a fair chance before she was off to 
another. I had better warn you, I am sure it will 
be the same with you." 

" I am not so sure of that." 

" So much the better. She has evidently great 


confidence in you, which is a strong point in your 

" It is everything." 

"As far as I am concerned, I frankly admit 
not having taken to you very kindly at first, but 
now, since we have met I am anxious to correct 
my first impression and," he added politely, "I 
believe we are en bonne voie. A propos, what is 

I got out of my difficulties by his adding good- 
humour edly: 

" Whatever it may be, it cannot be worse than 
appendicitis, and, depend upon it, I shall soon 
know as much about it as you do." 

He did not ask for much. I liked so much his 
frank, polite manners that I ventured to put bfrn 
a question in return. 

"No," he answered with a slight embarrass- 
ment in his voice, " I wish to God we had! We 
have now been married for five years and so far 
no sign of it. I wish to God we had! You know, 
I was born in this old house and so was my father, 
and my country-seat in Touraine has belonged to 
us for three centuries, I am the last of my family, 
and it is very hard, and . . . can nothing be doiie 
for these confounded nerves? Have you nothing 
to suggest?" 

" I am sure this enervating air of Paris is not 
good for the Countess, why don't you go for a 
change to your castle in Touraine? " ' 

His whole face lit up : 

" You are my man," said the Count, stretching 
his hands towards me, " I do not ask for better! 
I have my shooting there, and my big estate to 


look after, I love to be there, but it bores the 
Countess to death and of course it is rather lonely 
for her who likes to see her friends every day and 
go to parties or to the theatre every night. But 
how she can have the strength to go on like this 
from month to month, she who says she is always 
tired, is more than I can understand. It would 
kill me outright. Now she says she must remain 
in Paris to have her colitis attended to, it was 
appendicitis before. But I do not want you to 
think her selfish, on the contrary she is always 
thinking of me and even wants me to go to the 
Chateau Rameaux alone, she knows how happy I 
am there. But how can I leave her alone in Paris. 
She is so young and inexperienced." 

" How old is the Countess? " 

" Only twenty-nine. She looks even younger." 

"Yes. She looks almost like a young girl." 

He was silent a moment. " A propos, when are 
you going to take your holiday? " 

" I have not had a holiday for three years." 

" So much the more reason for taking one this 
year. Are you a good shot? " 

" I do not kill animals if I can help it. Why 
did you ask me this question? " 

"Because we have excellent shooting at Cha- 
teau Rameaux and I am sure a week's thorough 
rest would do you any amount of good. That is 
at least what my wife says, she says you are awfully 
overworked and you look it besides." 

" You are very kind, Monsieur le Comte, but I 
am all right, there is nothing the matter with me 
except that I cannot sleep." 

" Sleep 1 I wish I could give you some of mine! 


I have more than I need of it, and to spare. Do 
you know, I have hardly time to put my head on 
the pillow before I am fast asleep and nothing 
can wake me up. My wife is an early riser, but 
never once have I heard her get up, and my valet, 
who brings me my coffee at nine has to shake me 
before I wake up. I pity you indeed. A propos, 
I suppose you do not know of any remedy against 
snoring? " 

It was a clear case. We joined the ladies in the 
drawing-room. I was made to sit down by the 
side of the venerable Marquise for the unofficial 
consultation so skilfully arranged by the Countess. 
After another attempt to open a conversation with 
the old lady, I roared into her ear-trumpet that 
she had not got colitis, but that I was sure she 
would get it if she did not give up her pate de 
foi gras. 

" I told you so,'* whispered the Countess, " isn't 
he clever? " 

The Marquise wished to know at once all the 
symptoms of colitis and smiled cheerfully at me 
while I dripped the subtle poison down the ear- 
trumpet. When I stood up to go, I had lost my 
voice, but had found a new patient. 

A week later an elegant coupe stopped at the 
Avenue de Villiers and a footman rushed upstairs 
with a hurriedly scribbled note from the Countess 
to come at once to the Marquise who had been 
taken ill in the night with evident symptoms of 
colitis. I had made my entree in Paris society. 

Colitis spread like wildfire all over Paris. My 
waiting-room was soon so full of people that I 
had to arrange my dining-room as a sort of extra 


waiting-room. It was always a mystery to me 
how all these people could have time and patience 
to sit and wait there so long, often for hours. 
The Countess came regularly twice a week, but 
occasionally she felt seedy and had to come on 
extra days as well. It was evident that colitis 
suited her far better than appendicitis, her face 
had lost its languid pallour and her big eyes 
sparkled with youth. 

One day, as I was coming out of the hotel of 
the Marquise, she was leaving for the country, I 
had been there to bid her good-bye, I found the 
Countess standing by my carriage in friendly 
conversation with Tom, who was sitting on a huge 
parcel, half-hidden under the carriage-rug. The 
Countess was on her way to the Magasins du 
Louvre to buy a little present for the Marquise 
for her birthday to-morrow, and did not know in 
the least what to give her. I suggested a dog. 

" A dog! What a capital idea! " She remem- 
bered that when as a child she was taken to see 
the Marquise, she always found her with a pug 
on her lap, a pug who was so fat that he could 
hardly walk and who snored so terribly that one 
could hear him all over the house. Her aunt had 
been in tears for weeks when he died. A capital 
idea indeed. We walked down the street to the 
corner of Rue Cambon, where was the shop of a 
well-known dog-dealer. There, amongst half-a- 
dozen mongrels of all sorts and descriptions sat the 
very dog I wanted, an aristocratic little pug, who 
snored desperately at us to draw our attention to 
his sad plight and implored us with his blood-shot 
eyes to take him away from this mixed society 


into which he had been thrown by sheer misfortune 
and by no fault of his. He nearly suffocated with 
emotion when he realized his luck and was put into 
a cab and sent to the hotel in Faubourg St. Ger- 
main. The Countess was going anyhow to the 
Magasins du Louvre to try on a new hat. She 
said she wanted to go on foot. Then she said 
she wanted a cab and I volunteered to take her 
there in my carriage. She hesitated a moment 
what will people say if they see me driving about 
in his carriage? and then accepted with bonne 
grace. But was it not out of my way to drive 
her to the Louvre; not in the least, for I had noth- 
ing to do just then. What is in that parcel, asked 
the Countess with feminine curiosity. I was just 
going to tell her another lie when Tom, his mission 
as sole guardian of the precious parcel being at 
an end, jumped to his usual place on the seat by 
my side. The parcel split open and the head of 
a doll popped out. 

" Why on earth do you drive about with dolls, 
who are they for? " 

" For the children." 

She did not know I had any children and seemed 
almost offended at my reticence about my private 
affairs. How many children had I got? About 
a dozen. There was no way of getting out of it, 
the whole secret had to come out. 

" Come along with me," I said boldly, " and on 
the way back I will take you to see my friend 
Jack, the gorilla in the Jardin des Plantes. It is 
just on our way." The Countess was evidently 
in her very best mood that day and up to any- 
thing, she said she was delighted. After passing 


Gare Montparnasse she began to lose her bearings 
and soon she did not know at all where she was 
We drove through some sombre, evil-smelling 
slums. Dozens of ragged children were playing 
about in the gutter, choked with filth and refuse 
of all sorts, and almost before every door sat a 
woman with a baby at her breast and other small 
children at her side, huddled around the brazier. 

"Is this Paris?" asked the Countess with an 
almost frightened look in her eyes. 

Yes, this is Paris, la Ville Lumiere! And this 
is Tlmpasse Rousselle, I added, as we stopped 
before a blind alley, damp and dark like the 
bottom of a well. Salvatore's wife was sitting on 
the family's only chair with Petruccio, her child 
of sorrow, on her lap, stirring the polenta for the 
family dinner, eagerly watched by Petruccio's two 
eldest sisters, while the youngest child was crawl- 
ing about on the floor in pursuit of a kitten. I 
told Salvatore's wife I had brought a kind lady 
who wanted to give the children a present. I 
understood by her shyness it was the first time 
the Countess had ever entered the house of the 
very poor. She. blushed scarlet as she handed the 
first doll to Petruccio's mother, for Petruccio him- 
self could not hold anything in his withered hand, 
he had been paralyzed ever since he was born. 
Petruccio showed no sign of being pleased, for 
his brain was as numb as his limbs, but his mother 
was sure that he liked the doll very much. His 
two sisters received each a doll in their turn and 
ran away in delight to hide themselves behind the 
bed to play at little mothers. When did I think 
Salvatore would come out of the hospital? It 


was now nearly six weeks since he had fallen from 
the scaffold and broken his leg. Yes, I had just 
seen him at the Hopital Lariboisiere, he was doing 
pretty well and I hoped he would come out soon. 
How was she getting on with her new landlord? 
Thank God, very well, he was very kind, he had 
even promised to put in a fireplace for next winter. 
And wasn't it nice of him to have opened that little 
window under the ceiling, didn't I remember how 
dark the room was before? 

" Look how bright and cheerful it is here now, 
siamo in Paradiso," said Salvatore's wife. Was 
it true what Arcangelo Fusco told her that I had 
said to the old landlord, the day he had turned 
her out in the street and seized all her belongings, 
that the hour would come when God would punish 
him for his cruelty to all of us poor people and 
that I had cursed him so terribly that he had to 
hang himself a couple of hours later? Yes, it 
was quite true and I did not regret what I had 
done. As we were going away, my friend Arcan- 
gelo Fusco, who shared the room with the Salvatore 
family, was just returning from his day's work, 
his big broom on his shoulder. His profession was 
to fare la scopa in "those days most of the street- 
sweepers in Paris were Italians. I was glad to 
introduce him to the Countess, it was the least I 
could do for him in return for the invaluable 
service he had done to me when he had gone with 
me to the police-station to corroborate my evidence 
concerning the death of the old landlord. God 
knows in what awkward entanglements I might 
have been involved had it not been for Arcangelo 
Fusco. Even so, it was a close shave. I was very 


nearly arrested for murder. 1 Arcangelo Fusco who 
had a rose tucked over his ear, Italian fashion, 
presented his flower with southern gallantry to 
the Countess who looked as if she had never re- 
ceived a more graceful tribute to her fair youth. 
It was too late to go to the Jardin des Plantes, 
so I drove the Countess straight to her hotel. She 
was very silent, so I tried to cheer her up by telling 
her the funny story about the kind lady who had 
by accident read a little paper of mine about dolls 
in *Blackwood's Magazine* and had taken to 
making dolls by the dozen for the poor childrep 
I was speaking about. Hadn't she noticed how 
beautifully some of the dolls were dressed up? 
Yes, she had noticed it. Was the lady pretty? 
Yes, very. Was she in Paris? No, I had had to 
stop her making more dolls, as I had ended by 
having more dolls than patients, and I had sent 
the lady to St. Moritz for a change of air. On 
saying good-bye to the Countess before her hotel 
I expressed my regrets that there had been no time 
to visit the gorilla in the Jardin des Plantes but 
I hoped that anyhow she had not been sorry to 
have come with me. 

"I am not sorry, I am so grateful, but, but, 
but ... I am so ashamed," she sobbed as she 
sprang in through the gate of her h6tel. 

1 1 have related this strange story elsewhere. 


1HAD a standing invitation to dine at the hotel 
in Faubourg St. Germain every Sunday. The 
Count had long ago withdrawn his objections to 
doctors, in fact he was charming to me. Family 
dinner, only M. 1'Abbe and occasionally the cousin 
of the Countess, the Vicomte Maurice, who treated 
me with an almost insolent nonchalance. I dis- 
liked him from the first time I saw him, and I 
soon discovered I was not the only one. It was 
evident that the Count and he had very little to 
say to each other. The Abbe was a priest of the 
old school and a man of the world who knew far 
more of life and human nature than I did. He 
was at first very reserved towards me and often, 
when I noticed his shrewd eyes fixed on me, 
I felt as if he knew more about colitis than I 
did. I felt almost ashamed before this old man 
and would have liked to talk openly to hfrn and 
lay my cards on the table. But I never had the 
chance, I never had an opportunity of seeing him 
alone. One day, as I entered my dining-room to 
snatch a rapid luncheon before beginning my con- 
sultation, I was surprised to find him there wait- 
ing for me. He said he had come of his own 
accord, in his quality of an old friend of the family 
and wished I should not mention his visit. 
" You have been remarkably successful with the 



Countess/' he began, " and we are all very grate- 
ful to you. I must also compliment you about 
the Marquise. I have just come from her, I am 
her confessor, and I must say I am astonished 
to see how much better she is in every way. But 
it is about the Count that I have come to speak 
to you to-day, I am greatly worried about him, 
I am sure il file un mauvais coton. He hardly 
ever leaves the house, spends most of his days in 
his room smoking his big cigars, he sleeps for hours 
after luncheon and I often find him any time of 
the day asleep in his arm-chair with his cigar in 
his mouth. In the country he is quite a different 
man, he takes his morning-ride every day after 
Mass, is active and bright and takes much interest 
in the management of his big estates. His only 
wish is to go to his chateau in Touraine and if 
the Countess cannot be persuaded to leave Paris, 
as I fear is the case, I have reluctantly* come to 
the conclusion that he should go alone. He has 
great confidence in you and if you tell him it is 
necessary for his health to leave Paris, he will do so. 
This is precisely what I have come to ask you to do." 
" I am sorry, M. 1'Abbe, but I cannot." 
He lobked at me with undisguised surprise, al- 
most suspicion. 

" May I ask you the reason for your refusal? " 
" The Countess cannot leave Paris now and it 
is only natural that she should accompany the 

" Why cannot she be treated for her colitis in 
the country, there is a very good and safe doctor 
at the Castle who has often looked after her before, 
when she suffered from appendicitis." 


"With what result?" 

He did not answer. 

" May I in return," I said, " ask you this ques- 
tion? Suppose the Countess could be suddenly 
cured of her colitis, could you make her leave 

" Honestly speaking, no. But why this supposi- 
tion, since I understand that this disease is of long 
duration and difficult to cure? " 

" I could cure the Countess of her colitis in a 

He looked at me stupefied. 

" And why, in the name of All the Saints, don't 
you? You are incurring a tremendous responsi- 

" I am not afraid of responsibility, I would not 
be here if I were. Now let us speak openly. 
Yes, I could cure the Countess in a day, she no 
more has colitis than you or I, nor has she ever 
had appendicitis. It is all in her head, in her 
nerves. If I took away her colitis from her too 
rapidly, she might lose her mental balance alto- 
gether, or take to something far worse, say, 
morphia, or a lover. Whether I shall be able to 
be of any use to the Countess remains to be seen. 
To order the Countess to leave Paris now would 
be a psychological error. She would probably 
refuse and, once having dared to disobey me, her 
confidence in me would be at an end. Give me a 
fortnight and she will leave Paris by her own wish 
or at least she will think so. It is all a question 
of tactics. To make the Count go alone would be 
an error of another order, and you, M. PAbbe, 
know this as well as I do." 


He looked at me attentively but said nothing. 
"Now as to the Marquise. You were kind 
enough to compliment me for what I have done 
for her and I accept the compliment. Medically 
speaking I have done nothing nor could anybody 
else do anything. Deaf people suffer considerably 
from their inf orced isolation from others, specially 
those who have no mental resources of their own 
and they are in the majority. To distract their 
attention from their misfortune is the only thing 
one can do for them. The Marquise's thoughts 
are occupied with colitis instead of with deafness 
and you have yourself seen with what result. I 
myself am beginning to have quite enough of colitis, 
and now since the Marquise is going to the country, 
I am replacing it with a lap-dog, more suitable to 

As he was going away, the Abbe turned in the 
door and looked at me attentively. 

" How old are you? " 

" Twenty-six." 

" Vous irez loin, mon fils! Vous irez loin! " 

" Yes," thought I. " I am going far, far away, 
away from this humiliating life of humbug and 
deceit, from all these artificial people, back to the 
enchanting island, back to old Maria Porta-Lettere, 
to Mastro Vincenzo and to Gioconda, to clean my 
soul in the little white house high up on the top of 
the cliff. How much longer am I going to waste 
my time in this horrible town? When is Sant'- 
Antonio going to work his new miracle? 

On my table lay a letter of good-bye, not good- 
bye, but au revoir, from the Marquise, full of 
gratitude and praise. It contained a big bank- 

LUCK 49 

note. I looked at the faded photograph of Capri 
in the corner of my room and put the money in 
my pocket. What has become of all the money 
I made in those days of prosperity and luck? I 
was supposed to save it all for Mastro Vincenzo's 
house, but the fact remains, I never had any 
money to save. Wages of sin? Maybe, but if 
so, the whole faculty ought to have gone bank- 
rupt, for we were all in the same boat, the pro- 
fessors as well as my colleagues, with the same 
sort of clientele as I. Luckily for me I had other 
patients as well, plenty of them and enough to 
save me from becoming a charlatan altogether. 
There were in those days far fewer specialists 
than now. I was supposed to know everything, 
even surgery. It took me two years to realize 
that I was not fit to be a surgeon, I fear it took 
my patients less time. Although I was supposed 
to be a nerve-doctor, I did everything a doctor 
can be asked to do, even obstetrics, and God 
helped mother and child. In fact it was surpris- 
ing how well the great majority of my patients 
resisted the treatment. When Napoleon's eagle 
eye flashed down the list of officers proposed for 
promotion to generals, he used to scribble in the 
margin of a name: " Is he lucky? " I had luck, 
amazing, almost uncanny luck with everything I 
laid my hands on, with every patient I saw. I 
was not a good doctor, my studies had been too 
rapid, my hospital training too short, but there 
is not the slightest doubt that I was a successful 
doctor. What is the secret of success? To in- 
spire confidence. What is confidence? Where 
does it come from, from the head or from the 


heart? Does it derive from the upper strata of 
our mentality or is it a mighty tree of knowledge 
of good and evil with roots springing from the 
very depths of our being? Through what chan- 
nels does it communicate with others? Is it visible 
in the eye, is it audible in the spoken word? I do 
not know, I only know that it cannot be acquired 
by book-reading, nor by the bed-side of our patients. 
It is a magic gift granted by birth-right to one man 
and denied to another. The doctor who possesses 
this gift can almost raise the dead. The doctor 
who does not possess it will have to submit to the 
calling-in of a colleague for consultation in a case 
of measles. I soon discovered that this invaluable 
gift had been granted to me by no merit of mine. 
I discovered it in the nick of time, for I was begin- 
ning to become conceited and very pleased with 
myself. It made me understand how little I knew 
and made me turn more and more to Mother 
Nature, the wise old nurse, for advice and help. It 
might even have made me become a good doctor in 
the end, had I stuck to my hospital work and to 
my poor patients. But I lost all my chances, for 
I became a fashionable doctor instead. If you 
come across a fashionable doctor, watch him care- 
fully at a safe distance before handing yourself 
over to him. He may be a good doctor, but in 
very many cases he is not. First, because as a 
rule he is far too busy to listen with patience to 
your long story. Secondly, because he is inevitably 
liable to become a snob, if he is not one already, to 
let the Countess pass in before you, to examine the 
liver of the Count with more attention than that 
of his valet, to go to the garden-party at the Brit- 


ish Embassy instead of to your last-born, whose 
whooping-cough is getting worse. Thirdly, unless 
his heart is very sound he will soon show unmistak- 
able signs of precocious hardening of that organ; 
he will become indifferent and insensible to the 
suffering of others, like the pleasure-seeking people 
around him. You cannot be a good doctor without 
Often, when a long day's work was over, I, who 
have always been interested in psychology, used to 
ask myself why all these silly people sat and waited 
for me for hours in my consulting-room. Why did 
they all obey me, why could I so often make them 
feel better, even by a mere touch of my hand? 
Why, even after the power of speech had gone and 
the terror of death was staring out of their eyes, 
did they become so peaceful and still when I laid 
my hand on their forehead? Why did the lunatics 
in the Asile St. Anne, foaming with rage and 
screaming like wild animals, become calm and docile 
when I loosened their strait- jackets and held their 
hand in mine? It was a common trick of mine, all 
the warders knew it and many of my comrades and 
even the professor used to say of me: Ce garpon-la 
a le didble au corps! I have always had a sneak- 
ing liking for lunatics, I used to wander about 
quite unconcerned in the Salle des Agites as among 
friends. I had been warned more than once that 
it would end badly, but of course I knew better. 
One day, one of my best friends hit me on the back 
of the head with a hammer he had got hold of in 
some inexplicable way, and I was carried uncon- 
scious to the infirmary. It was a terrible blow, my 


friend was an ex-blacksmith who knew his business. 
They thought at first I had a fracture of the skull. 
Not I! It was only a commotion cerebrale and 
my misadventure brought me a flattering compli- 
ment from the chef de clinique: " Ce sacre Suedois 
a le crane d'un ours, faut voir s'il n'a pas casse le 

" After all it may be in the head and not in the 
hand," said I to myself when my mental machinery 
set to work after a standstill of forty-eight hours. 
As I lay there in the infirmary a whole week with 
an ice-bag on my " head of a bear " visitors 
or books to keep me company, I began to think 
hard on the subject, and not even the blacksmith's 
hammer could make me abandon my theory that it 
was all in the hand. 

Why could I put my hand between the bars of 
the black panther's cage in Menagerie Pezon and, 
if nobody came near to irritate him, make the big 
cat roll over on his back, purring amiably at me, 
with my hand between his paws and yawning at 
me with his big mouth wide open? Why could I 
lance the abscess in L6onie's foot and pull out the 
splinter of wood that had made the big lioness 
tramp about restlessly on three legs for a week in 
agonizing pain? The local anaesthetic had proved a 
failure, and poor Leonie moaned like a child when 
I pressed the pus out of her paw. Only when I 
disinfected the wound she got somewhat impatient, 
but there was no wrath in the subdued thunder of 
her voice, only disappointment that she was not 
allowed to lick it herself with her sharp tongue. 
When the operation was over and I was leaving the 
menagerie with the baby baboon under my arm M. 


Pezon had presented to me as my fee, the famous 
lion-tamer said to me: 

"Monsieur le Docteur, vous avez manque 
votre profession, vous auriez du etre dompteur 
d'animaux! " 

And Ivan, the big Polar Bear at the Jardin des 
Plantes, did he not clamber out of his tub of water 
as soon as he saw me, to come to the bars of his 
prison and standing erect on his hind legs put his 
black nose just in front of mine and take the fish 
from my hand in the most friendly manner? The 
keeper said he did it with nobody else, no doubt he 
looked upon me as a sort of compatriot. Don't say 
it was the fish and not the hand, for when I had 
nothing to offer him he still stood there in the same 
position as long as I had time to remain, looking 
steadfastly at me with his shining black eyes under 
their white eye-lashes and sniffing at my hand. Of 
course we spoke in Swedish, with a sort of Polar 
accent I picked up from fa'm. I am sure he under- 
stood every word I said when I told him in a low 
monotonous voice how sorry I was for him and that 
when I was a boy I had seen two of his kinsmen 
swimming close to our boat amongst floating ice- 
blocks in the land of our birth. 

And poor Jacques, the famous gorilla of the 
Zoo, so far the only one of his tribe who had been 
taken prisoner and brought to the sunless land of 
his enemies ! Didn't he confidentially put his horny 
hand in mine as soon as he saw me? Didn't he like 
me to pat him gently on his back? He would sit 
quite still for minutes holding on to my hand with- 
out saying anything. Often he would look at the 


palm of my hand with great attention, as if he knew 
something about palmistry, bend my fingers one 
after another as if to see how the joints were work- 
ing, then he would drop my hand and look with the 
same attention at his own hand with a chuckle, as 
if to say that he saw no great difference between 
the two and he was quite right there. Most of the 
time he used to sit quite still fingering a straw, in 
the corner of the cage where his visitors could not 
see him, seldom using the swing provided for him 
in the clumsy hope that he might take it for the 
swinging branch of the sycamore-tree where he used 
to take his siesta in the days of his freedom. He 
used to sleep on a low couch made of bamboo, like 
the srir of the Arabs, but he was an early riser 
and I never saw him in bed until he was taken ill. 
He had been taught by his keeper to eat his midday- 
meal seated before a low table, a napkin stuck 
under his chin. He had even been provided with 
a knife and fork of hard wood, but had never taken 
to them, he much preferred to eat with his fingers, 
as did our forefathers up till a couple of hundred 
years ago and still does the majority of the human 
race. But he drank his milk with great gusto out 
of his own cup and also his morning coffee with 
much sugar in it. It is true that he blew his nose 
with his fingers, but so did Petrarca's Laura, Mary 
Queen of Scots and Le Hoi Soleil. Poor Jack! 
Our friendship lasted to the end. He had been ail- 
ing ever since Christmas, his complexion became 
ashy grey, his cheeks hollow and his eyes sank 
deeper and deeper into their sockets. He became 
restless and fretful, was losing flesh rapidly, and 
soon a dry, ominous cough set in. I took his tern- 

JACK 55 

perature several times but had to be very careful 
for, like children, he was apt to break the thermom- 
eter to see what was moving inside. One day as he 
sat on my lap holding on to my hand, he had a 
violent fit of coughing which brought on a slight 
haemorrhage of the lungs. The sight of the blood 
terrified him, as is the case with most people. I 
often noticed during the war how even the bravest 
Tommies who looked quite unconcerned at their 
gaping wounds could grow pale at the sight of a 
few drops of fresh blood. He lost more and more 
his appetite and could only with great difficulty be 
coaxed to eat a banana or a fig. One morning I 
found him lying on his bed with the blanket 
pulled over his head, just as my patients in the 
Salle St. Claire used to lie, when they were tired 
to death and sick of everything. He must have 
heard me coming for he stretched out his hand 
from under the blanket and got hold of mine. I 
didn't want to disturb him and sat there for a 
long while with his hand in mine, listening to his 
heavy irregular respiration and to the phlegm 
rattling in his throat. Presently a sharp fit of 
coughing shook his whole body. He sat up in 
his bed and put his two hands to his temples in a 
gesture of despair. The whole expression of his 
face had changed. He had cast off his animal dis- 
guise and become a dying human being. So near 
had he come to me that he was deprived of the 
only privilege our Mighty God has granted to the 
animals in compensation for the sufferings man 
inflicts upon them that of an easy death. His 
agony was terrible, he died slowly strangled by the 
same Executioner I had so often seen at work in 


Salle St. Claire. I recognized him well by the slow 
grip of his hand. 

And after? What became of my poor friend 
Jack? I know well that his emaciated body went 
to the Anatomical Institution and that his skeleton, 
with its large brain-pan, still stands erect in the 
Musee Dupuytren. But is that all? 


I MISSED very much my Sunday dinners in 
Faubourg St. Germain. About a fortnight 
after my interview with the Abbe the Countess, 
with her impulsive nature, had suddenly felt the 
need of a change of air and decided to accompany 
the Count to their chateau in Touraine. It came 
as a surprise to us all, only the Abbe must have 
had some inkling of it, for I noticed a merry 
twinkling in his shrewd old eye the last Sunday I 
dined there. The Countess was kind enough to 
send me a weekly report to say how she was get- 
ting on and I also heard now and then from 
the Abbe. Everything was going on well. The 
Count had his ride every morning, never slept 
during the day and smoked much less. The 
Countess had taken up her music again, occupied 
herself diligently with the poor of the village and 
never complained about her colitis. The Abbe 
also gave me good news about the Marquise, whose 
country-seat was a short hour's drive from the 
chateau. She was doing very well. Instead of 
sitting in her arm-chair in mournful seclusion the 
whole day, worrying about her deafness, she now 
took a long walk twice a day in the garden for the 
sake of her beloved Loulou who was getting too fat 
and greatly in need of exercise. 

. 57 


" He is a horrible little brute," wrote the Abbe, 
"who sits in her lap and snarls and growls at 
everybody; he has even bitten the maid twice. 
Everybody hates him, but the Marquise adores 
him and fusses about him the whole day. Yes- 
terday in the midst of the confession he was 
suddenly sick all over her beautiful teagown and 
his mistress was in such a state of alarm that I 
had to interrupt the function. Now the Mar- 
quise wants me to ask you if you think it might 
possibly develop into colitis and asks you to be so 
kind as to prescribe something for him, she says 
she feels sure you will understand his case better 
than anybody." 

The Marquise was not far from the truth there, 
for I was already then beginning to be known 
as a good dog-doctor, though I had not reached 
the eminent position I occupied later in my life, 
when I became a consulting dog-doctor famous 
among all dog-lovers of my clientele. I am aware 
that the opinions as to my skill as a doctor to my 
fellow-creatures have been somewhat divided, but 
I dare to maintain that my reputation as a reliable 
dog-doctor has never been seriously challenged. I 
am not conceited enough to wish to deny that this 
may partly depend upon the absence of jalousie de 
metier I met with in the exercise of this branch of 
my profession I got plenty of it in the other 
branches, I can assure you. 

To become a good dog-doctor it is necessary to 
love dogs, but it is also necessary to understand 
them the same as with us, with the difference 
that it is easier to understand a dog than a man 
and easier to love him. Never forget that the 


mentality of one dog is totally different from that 
of another. The sharp wit that sparkles in the 
quick eye of a fox-terrier, for instance, reflects a 
mental activity totally different from the serene 
wisdom which shines in the calm eye of a St. 
Bernard or an old sheep-dog. The intelligence 
of dogs is proverbial, but there is a great differ- 
ence of degree, already apparent in the puppies 
as soon as they open their eyes. There are even 
stupid dogs, though the percentage is much 
smaller than in man. On the whole it is easy to 
understand the dog and to learn to read his 
thoughts. The dog cannot dissimulate, cannot 
deceive, cannot lie because he cannot speak. The 
dog is a saint. He is straightforward and honest 
by nature. If in exceptional cases there appear 
in a dog some stigmas of hereditary sin traceable 
to his wild ancestors, who had to rely on cunning 
in their fight for existence, these stigmas will 
disappear when his experience has taught him 
that he can rely upon straight and just dealings 
from us. If these stigmas should remain in a dog 
who is well treated, these cases are extremely 
rare, this dog is not normal, he is suffering from 
moral insanity and should be given a painless 
death. A dog gladly admits the superiority of his 
master over himself, accepts his judgment as final, 
but, contrary to what many dog-lovers believe, 
he does not consider himself as a slave. His 
submission is voluntary and he expects his own 
small rights to be respected. He looks upon his 
master as his king, almost as his god, he expects 
his god to be severe if need be, but he expects 
him to be just. He knows that his god can read 


his thoughts and he knows it is no good to try to 
conceal them. Can he read the thoughts of his 
god? Most certainly he can. The Society for 
Psychical Research may say what they like, but 
telepathy between man and man has so far not 
been proved. But telepathy between dog and 
man has been proved over and over again. The 
dog can read his master's thoughts, can under- 
stand his varying moods, and foretell his decisions. 
He knows by instinct when he is not wanted, lies 
quite still for hours when his king is hard at work 
as kings often are, or at least ought to be. But 
when his king is sad and worried he knows that 
his time has come and he creeps- up and lays his 
head on his lap. Don't worry! Never mind if 
they all abandon you, I am here to replace all 
your friends and to fight all your enemies! Come 
along and let us go for a walk and forget all 
about it! 

It is strange and very pathetic to watch the 
behaviour of a dog when his master is ill. The 
dog warned by his infallible instinct is afraid of 
disease, afraid of death. A dog accustomed for 
years to sleep on his master's bed is reluctant to 
remain there when his master is ill. Even in the 
rare exceptions to this rule, he leaves his master 
at the approach of death, hiding in a corner of the 
room and whining pitifully. It has even hap- 
pened to me to be warned by the behaviour of a 
dog of the approach of death. What does he 
know about death? At least as much as we do, 
probably a good deal more. As I write this I am 
reminded of a poor woman in Anacapri, a stranger 
to the village, slowly dying of consumption, so 

BOGS 61 

slowly that one after another of the few comari 
who used to go and see her had got tired of her 
and left her to her fate. Her only friend was a 
mongrel dog, who, an exception to the rule I have 
just mentioned, never left his place at the foot of 
her bed. It was besides the only place to lie on, 
except on the damp earthen floor of the wretched 
hole the poor woman lived and died in. One day, 
as I happened to pass by, I found Don Salvatore 
there, the only one of the twelve priests of our 
little village who took the slightest interest in the 
poor and the sick. Don Salvatore asked me if I 
did not think the time had come to bring her the 
Last Sacraments. The woman looked about as 
usual, her pulse was not worse, she even told us 
she had felt a little better these last days la 
miglioria della morte, said Don Salvatore. I 
had often marvelled at the amazing tenacity 
with which she clung to life and I told the priest 
she might quite well last for another week or two. 
So we agreed to wait with the Last Sacraments. 
Just as we were leaving the room the dog jumped 
down from the bed with a howl of distress and 
crouched in the corner of the room whining piti- 
fully. I could see no change in the woman's 
looks, but noticed with surprise that her pulse 
was now almost imperceptible. She made a 
desperate effort to say something, but I could not 
understand at first what she meant. She looked 
at me with wide-open eyes and raised her emaci- 
ated arm several times pointing to the dog. This 
time I understood and I believe she also under- 
stood me when I bent over her and said I would 
take care of the dog. She nodded contentedly, 


her eyes closed and the peace of death spread over 
her face. She drew a deep breath, a few drops of 
blood oozed out between her lips and it was all 
over. The immediate cause of this woman's 
death was evidently an internal haemmorhage. 
How did the dog know before I knew? When 
they came in the evening to take her away the 
dog followed his mistress to the camposanto, 
the only mourner. Next day old Pacciale, the 
grave-digger, already then my special friend, told 
me that the dog was still lying on her grave. It 
rained torrents the whole day and the following 
night, but in the morning the dog was still there. 
In the evening I sent Pacciale with a leash to try 
to coax him away and take him to San Michele, 
but the dog growled savagely at him and refused 
to move. On the third day I went to the ceme- 
tery myself and succeeded with great difficulty in 
making him follow me home, he knew me besides 
quite well. There were eight dogs in San Michele 
in those days and I felt very uneasy as to the 
reception awaiting the new-comer. But all went 
well, thanks to Billy, the baboon, for he, for some 
inexplicable reason, at first sight took a great 
fancy to the stranger, who, once recovered from 
his stupefaction, soon became his inseparable friend. 
All my dogs hated and feared the huge monkey 
who ruled supreme in the garden of San Michele 
and soon even Barbarossa, the fierce Maremma dog, 
ceased to growl at the new-comer. He lived there 
happily for two years and is buried there under the 
ivy with my other dogs. 

A dog can be taught to do almost anything with 
friendly encouragement, patience and a biscuit 

DOGS 63 

when he has learned his lesson with right good 
will. Never lose your temper or use violence of 
any sort. Corporal punishment inflicted on an 
intelligent dog is an indignity which reflects upon 
his master. It is besides a psychological error. 
This being said, let me add that naughty puppies 
as well as very small children before the age of 
reason, but not after, are quite welcome to a little 
spanking now and then when too recalcitrant to 
learn the fundamental rules of good manners. 
Personally, I have never taught my dogs any sort 
of tricks, although I admit that many dogs, their 
lesson once learned, take great pleasure in show- 
ing off their tricks. To perform in a circus is 
quite another matter and a degradation to an 
intelligent dog. Anyhow these performing dogs 
are as a rule well looked after on account of the 
money they bring in and are infinitely better off 
than their wretched wild comrades in the menag- 
erie. When a dog is ill, he will submit to almost 
anything, even a painful operation, if it is ex- 
plained to him in a kind but firm voice that it 
must be done and why it must be done. Never 
coax a sick dog to eat, he often does so only to 
oblige you, even if his instinct warns him to 
abstain from food, which is as often as not his 
salvation. Don't worry, dogs like very small 
children can be without food for several days with- 
out further inconvenience. A dog can stand 
pain with great courage, but of course he likes 
you to tell him how sorry you are for him. Maybe 
it will be a comfort to some dog-lovers to be told 
that I do believe that on the whole their sensitive- 
ness to pain is less acute than we think. Never 


disturb a sick dog when not absolutely necessary. 
As often as not your untimely interference only 
distracts nature in her effort to assist him to get 
well. All animals wish to be left alone when they 
are ill and also when they are about to die. Alas! 
the life of a dog is so short and there are none of us 
who have not been in mourning for a lost friend. 
Your first impulse and your first words after you 
have laid him to rest under a tree in the park, are 
that you never, never wish to have another dog; 
no other dog could ever replace him, no other dog 
xjould ever be to you what he has been. You are 
mistaken. It is not a dog we love, it is the dog. 
They are all more or less the same, they are all 
ready to love you and be loved by you. They 
are all representatives of the most lovable and, 
morally speaking, most perfect creation of God. 
If you loved your dead friend in the right way, 
you cannot do without another. Alas! he also 
will have to part from you, for those beloved by 
the gods die young. Remember when his time 
Hcomes what I am going to tell you now. Do not 
send him to the lethal chamber or ask your kind- 
hearted doctor to see that he is given a painless 
death under an anaesthetic. It is not a painless 
death, it is a distressing death. Dogs often 
resist the deadly effect of these gases and drugs 
in the most heartrending way. The dose which 
would kill a full-grown man often leaves a dog 
alive for long minutes of mental and bodily suffer- 
ing. I have been present several times at these 
massacres in lethal chambers and I have myself 
killed many dogs under anaesthetics, and I know 
vrhat I am talking about. I shall never do it 


again. Ask any man you can trust, who is fond 
of dogs, this condition is necessary, to take your 
old dog in the park, to give him a bone and while 
he is eating it to shoot him with a revolver 
through the ear. It is an instantaneous and 
painless death, life is extinguished like the candle 
you blow out. Many of my old dogs have died so 
by my own hand. They all lie buried under the 
cypresses in Materita and over their graves stands 
an antique marble column. There also lies an- 
other dog, for twelve years the faithful friend 
of a gracious lady who, although she has to be 
the mother of a whole country, my own country, 
has enough room left in her heart to bring a bunch 
of flowers to his grave every time she comes to 

Fate has willed that the most lovable of aJI 
animals should be the bearer of the most terrible 
of all diseases hydrophobia. I witnessed at the 
Institut Pasteur the early stages of the long- 
drawn battle between science and the dreaded foe 
and I also witnessed the final victory. It was 
dearly won. Hecatombs of dogs had to be sacri- 
ficed and maybe some human lives as well. I 
used to visit the doomed animals and give them 
what little comfort I could, but it became so 
painful to me that for some time I gave up going* 
to the Institut Pasteur altogether. Still I never 
doubted it was right, that what was done had to 
be done. I was present at many failures, saw 
many people die both before and after treatment 
with < the new method. Pasteur was violently 
attacked not only by all sorts of ignorant and 
well-meaning dog-lovers but also by many of his 


own colleagues, he was even accused of having 
caused the death of several of his patients with 
his serum. He himself went on his way un- 
daunted by failure, but those who saw him in 
those days knew well how much he suffered from 
the tortures he had to inflict upon the dogs, for 
he was himself a great lover of dogs. He was the 
most kind-hearted of men. I once heard him say 
that he could never have the courage to shoot a 
bird. Everything that could possibly be done to 
minimize the sufferings of the laboratory dogs was 
done, even the keeper of the kennel at Villeneuve 
de TEtang, an ex-gendarme called Pernier, had 
been chosen for his post by Pasteur himself be- 
cause he was known as a great lover of dogs. 
These kennels contained sixty dogs inoculated 
with serum and regularly taken to the kennels in 
the old Lycee Rollin for bite tests. In these 
kennels were kept forty rabid dogs. The han- 
dling of these dogs, all foaming with rage, was a 
very dangerous affair, and I often marvelled at 
the courage displayed by everybody. Pasteur 
himself was absolutely fearless. Anxious to se- 
cure a sample of saliva straight from the jaws 
of a rabid dog, I once saw him with the glass' tube 
held between his lips draw a few drops of the 
deadly saliva from the mouth of a rabid bull-dog, 
held on the table by two assistants, their hands 
protected by leather gloves. Most of these lab- 
oratory dogs were homeless stray dogs picked 
up by the police in the streets of Paris, but many 
of them looked as if they had seen better ^days. 
Here they suffered and died in obscurity, Un- 
known Soldiers in the battle of the human mind 


against disease and death* Close by, at La Baga- 
telle, in the elegant dog-cemetery founded by Sir 
Richard Wallace, lay buried hundreds of lap-dogs 
and drawing-room dogs, with the records of their 
useless and luxurious lives inscribed by loving 
hands on the marble crosses over their graves. 

Then came the terrible episode of the six 
Russian peasants bitten by a pack of mad wolves 
and sent to the Institut Pasteur at the expenses 
of the Tzar. They were all horribly mauled in 
the face and hands and their chances from the 
outset were almost nil. Moreover it was known 
even then that hydrophobia in wolves was far 
more dangerous than in dogs and that those 
bitten in the face were almost certain to die. 
Pasteur knew this better than anybody, and 
hadn't he been the man he was, he would no 
doubt have declined to take them in hand. They 
were placed in a separate ward in the Hotel Dieu in 
the charge of Professor Tillaux, the most eminent 
and the most humane surgeon in Paris in those 
days and a staunch supporter and great friend 
of Pasteur's. Pasteur came himself every morn- 
ing with Tillaux to inoculate them, watching 
them anxiously from day to day. Nobody could 
understand a word they said. One afternoon, 
it was on the ninth day, I was trying to pour a 
drop of milk down the lacerated throat of one of 
the moujiks, a giant whose whole face had almost 
been torn away, when suddenly something wild 
and uncanny flashed in his eyes, the muscles of 
the jaws contracted and opened spasmodically 
with a snapping sound and a ghastly cry I had 
never heard before either from man or animal 


rang out from his foaming mouth. He made a 
violent effort to spring out of bed and nearly 
knocked me down, as I tried to hold him back. 
His arms, strong as the paws of a bear, closed 
on me in a clasp, holding me tight as in a vice. I 
felt the foul breath from his foaming mouth 
close to mine and the poisonous saliva dripping 
down my face. I gripped at his throat, the 
bandage slipped off his ghastly wound and as I 
drew back my hands from his snapping jaws, they 
were red with blood. A convulsive trembling 
passed over his whole body, his arms relaxed 
their grasp and fell back inert at his side. I 
staggered to the door in search of the strongest 
disinfectant I could get hold of. In the corridor 
sat Soeur Marthe, drinking her afternoon coffee. 
She looked at me terrified and I gulped down her 
cup of coffee just as I was going to faint. By 
God's mercy there was not a scratch on my face nor 
hands. Scaur Marthe was a great friend of mine. 
She kept her word; so far as I know, the secret 
never leaked out. I had good reason to keep it 
secret, strict orders had been given not to approach 
any of these men unless it was absolutely necessary 
and if so, only with the hands protected by thick 
gloves. I told it later to the Professor himself, he 
was quite rightly very angry with me, but he had 
a sneaking weakness for me and he soon forgave 
me, as he had so often done before for many short- 

"Sacre Suedois," he muttered, "tu es aussi 
enrage que le moujik!" In the evening the 
moujik, tied hand and foot to the iron bars of the 
bed, was carried to a separate pavilion isolated 


from the others. I went to see him next morning 
with Soeur Marthe. The room was semi-dark. 
The bandage covered his whole face and I could 
see nothing but his eyes. I shall never forget the 
expression of those eyes, they used to haunt me 
for years afterwards. His breathing was short 
and irregular, with intervals like the Cheyne- 
Stokes respiration the well-known precursory 
symptom of death. He talked with vertiginous 
rapidity in a hoarse voice, now and then interrupted 
by a wild cry of distress or a hooting moan which 
made me shudder. I listened for a while to the 
rush of unknown words half -drowned in the flow of 
saliva, and soon I thought I distinguished one same 
word repeated incessantly, with an almost desperate 

"Crestitsa! Crestitsa! Crestitsal " I looked 
attentively at his eyes, kind, humble, imploring 

" He is conscious," I whispered to Soeur Marthe, 
" he wants something. I wish I knew what it is. 

" Crestitsa! Crestitsa! Crestitsa! " he called out 

" Run and fetch a crucifix," I said to the nun. 

We laid the crucifix on the bed. The flow of 
words ceased instantly. He lay there quite silent, 
his eyes fixed on the crucifix. His breathing grew 
fainter and fainter. Suddenly the muscles of his 
giant body stiffened in a last violent contraction 
and the heart stood still. 

The next day another moujik showed unmis- 
takable signs of hydrophobia, and soon another, 
and three days later they were all raving mad. 


Their screams and howls could be heard all over 
the Hotel Dieu, people said even below in Place 
Notre Dame. The whole hospital was in emo- 
tion. Nobody wanted to go near the ward, even 
the courageous sisters fled in terror. I can see 
now the white face of Pasteur as he passed in 
silence from bed to bed, looking at the doomed 
men with infinite compassion in his eyes- He sank 
down on a chair, his head between his hands. Ac- 
customed as I was to see him every day I had not 
noticed till then how ill and worn he looked, though 
I knew from an almost imperceptible hesitation in 
his speech and a slight embarrassment in the grip 
of his hand that he had already then received the 
first warning of the fate that was to overtake him 
ere long. Tillaux who had been sent for in the 
midst of an operation rushed into the ward, his 
apron stained with blood. He went up to Pasteur 
and laid his hand on his shoulder. The two men 
looked at each other in silence. The kind blue eyes 
of the great surgeon, who had seen so much horror 
and suffering, glanced round the ward and his face 
grew white like a sheet. 

"I cannot stand it," he said in a broken voice 
and sprang out of the room. 

The same evening a consultation took place be- 
tween these two men. They are few who know the 
decision they arrived at, but it was the only right 
one and an honour to them both. The next morn- 
ing all was silent in the ward. During the night 
the doomed men had been helped to a painless 

The impression in Paris was enormous. All the 
newspapers were full of the most ghastly descrip- 


tions of the death of the Russian moujiks and for 
days nobody spoke of anything else. 

Late one night the following week a well- 
known Norwegian animal painter came rushing to 
Avenue de Villiers in a state of fearful agitation. 
He had been bitten in the hand by his beloved 
dog, an enormous bull-dog, most ferocious-look- 
ing, but hitherto most amiable and a great friend 
of mine his portrait painted by his master had 
besides been in the Salon the year before. We 
drove at once to the studio in Avenue des Termes. 
The dog was locked up in the bedroom and his 
master wanted me to shoot him at once, he said 
he had not the courage to do it himself. . The dog 
was running to and fro, now and then hiding under 
the bed with a savage growl. The room was so 
dark that I put the key in my pocket and decided 
to wait till next morning. I disinfected and 
dressed the wound and gave the Norwegian a 
sleeping-draught for the night. I watched the 
dog attentively the next morning and decided to 
postpone shooting him till the following day as I 
was not quite certain he really had hydrophobia, 
notwithstanding all the appearances. Errors of 
diagnosis in the early stages of rabies are very 
common. Even the classical symptom which 
has given its name to the dreaded disease hydro- 
phobia means horror of water is not to be relied 
upon. The rabid dog does not abhor water. I 
have often seen a rabid dog drink with avidity 
from a bowl of water I had put in his cage. It is 
only with human beings affected with rabies that 
this symptom holds good. A great number, if 


not the majority of dogs killed suspected of hydro- 
phobia, are suffering from other relatively harm- 
less diseases. But even if this can be proved by 
post-mortem examination not one in a dozen of 
ordinary doctors and vets is competent to do it 
it is as a rule most difficult to convince the person 
who has been bitten by the dog. The dread of 
the terrible disease remains, and to be haunted 
by the fear of hydrophobia is as dangerous as the 
disease itself. The right thing to do is to have the 
suspected dog safely locked up and provided with 
food and drink. If he is alive after ten days it is 
certain that it is not rabies and all is well. 

Next morning when I watched the dog through 
the half -open door he wagged his stump of a tail 
and looked at me with a quite friendly expression 
in his blood-shot eyes. But just as I stretched 
out my hand to pat him, he retired under the bed 
with a growl. I did not know what to think. 
Anyhow I told his master I did not believe he was 
rabid. He would not hear of it and again begged 
me to shoot the dog at once. I refused and said I 
wanted to wait another day. His master had 
spent the night walking to and fro in the studio 
and on the table lay a medical handbook with 
the symptoms of hydrophobia in man and dog 
marked with a pencil. I threw the book in the 
fire. His neighbour, a Russian sculptor, who had 
promised me to remain with him the whole day, 
told me in the evening he had refused all food 
and drink, was constantly wiping .saliva from 
his lips and talked about nothing but hydro- 
phobia. I insisted upon his drinking a cup of 
coffee. He looked at me desperately and said he 


could not swallow and as I handed hi the cup I 
was horrified to see the muscles of his jaw stiffen 
with a convulsive cramp, his whole body began to 
tremble and he sank down in his chair with a ter- 
rible cry of distress. I gave him a strong injection 
of morphia and told him I was so sure that the 
dog was all right that I was willing to go into the 
room again, but I don't believe I would have had 
the courage to do it. The morphia began to act 
and I left him half -asleep in his chair. When I 
returned late at night, the Russian sculptor told 
me that the whole house had been in an uproar, 
that the landlord had sent the concierge to say 
that the dog must be killed at once and that he 
had just shot him through the window. The dog 
had crawled to the door, where he had finished 
him off with another bullet. He was lying there 
still in a pool of blood. His master was sitting 
in his chair staring straight before him without 
saying a word. I did not like the look in his eyes, 
I took his revolver from the table and put it in 
my pqcket, there was still one bullet left. I lit the 
candle and asked the Russian sculptor to help me to 
carry the dead dog down to my carriage, I wanted 
to take him straight to the Institut Pasteur for a 
post-mortem. There was a large pool of blood near 
the door, the dog was not there. 

" Shut the door," shouted the sculptor behind 
me as the dog sprang at me from under the bed 
with a horrible growl, his wide-open mouth 
streaming with blood. The candlestick dropped 
from my hand, I fired at random in the dark and 
the dog fell dead at my very feet. We put him 
in my carriage and I drove to the Institut Pas- 


teur. Doctor Roux, Pasteur's right-hand man, 
and later on his successor, saying it looked very 
bad indeed, promised to make a post-mortem 
immediately and to let me know as soon as pos- 
sible. When I came to Avenue des Ternes next 
day, I found the Russiapt standing outside the 
studio floor. He had spent the night with his 
friend who had been walking up and down the 
whole time in great agitation, till at last he had 
fallen asleep in his chair an hour ago. The Russian 
had gone to his own room to wash and on coming 
back a moment ago had found the studio door 
locked from the inside. 

"Listen," he said, as if to excuse himself for 
having disobeyed the orders not to leave him a 
second, " it is all right, he is still asleep, don't you 
hear his snoring? " 

" Help me to break open the door," I shouted, 
" it is not snoring, it is the stertorous breathing, 
of ..." 

The door gave way and we rushed in the studio. 
He was lying on the couch breathing heayily, a 
revolver still clutched in his hand. He had shot 
himself through the eye. We carried him to my 
carriage. I drove full speed to the Hopital Beau- 
jon where he was operated on at once by Professor 
Labbe. The revolver he had shot himself with 
was of smaller calibre than the one I had taken 
from him, the bullet was extracted. He was 
still unconscious when I left. The same evening 
I received a letter from Doctor Roux that the 
result of the post-mortem examination was nega- 
tive, the dog had not had hydrophobia. I drove 
at once to the Hopital Beaujon. The Norwegian 


was delirious prognosis pessima, said the famous 
surgeon. On the third day hrain-fever set in. 
He did not die, he left the hospital a month later, 
blind. The last I heard of him, was that he was in 
a lunatic asylum in Norway. 

My own role in this lamentable affair was not 
satisfactory. I did my best, but it was not enough. 
If it had happened a couple of years later, this man 
would not have shot himself. I would have known 
how to master his fear, and would have been the 
stronger of the two as I have been in later years 
more than once, when I have stayed a hand clutch- 
ing a revolver in fear of life, 

When will the anti-vivisectionists realize that 
when they are asking for total prohibition of 
experiments on living animals they are asking 
for what it is impossible to grant them? Pas- 
teur's vaccination against rabies has reduced the 
mortality in this terrible disease to a 

and Behring's anti-diphtheric serum saves the 
lives of over a hundred thousand children every 
year. Are not these two facts alone sufficient to 
make these well-meaning lovers of animals under- 
stand that discoverers of new worlds like Pasteur, 
of new remedies against hitherto incurable dis- 
eases like Koch, Ehrlich and Behring must be 
left to pursue their researches unhampered by 
restrictions and undisturbed by interference from 
outsiders. Those to be left a free hand are 
besides so few that they can be counted on one's 
fingers. For the rest no doubt most severe 
restrictions should be insisted upon, perhaps 
even total prohibition. But I go further. One 
of the most weighty arguments against several of 


these experiments on living animals is that their 
practical value is much reduced, owing to the 
fundamental difference from a pathological and 
physiological point of view between the bodies 
of men and the bodies of animals. But why 
should these experiments be limited to the bodies 
of animals, why should they not be carried out 
on the living body of man as well? Why should 
not the born criminals, the chronic evil-doers,, 
condemned to waste their remaining life in 
prison, useless and often dangerous to others and 
to themselves, why should not these inveterate 
offenders against our laws be offered a reduction 
of their penal servitude if they were willing to- 
submit under anaesthetics to certain experiments 
on their living bodies for the benefit of man- 
kind? If the judge, before putting on the black 
cap, had in his power to offer the murderer the 
alternative between the gallows and penal ser- 
vitude for so and so many years, I have little 
doubt there would be no lack of candidates. 
Why should not Doctor Woronoff, the practical 
value of his invention be it what it may, be 
allowed to open up an enlisting office in the 
prisons for those willing to enroll themselves as 
substitutes for his wretched monkeys? Why do 
not these well-meaning lovers of animals begin 
by concentrating their efforts on putting a stop 
to the exhibition of wild animals in circuses and 
menageries? As long as this scandal is tolerated 
by our laws there is little chance for us to be 
looked upon as civilized by a future generation. 
If you want to realize what a set of barbarians we 
really are, you have only to enter the tent of a 


travelling menagerie. The cruel wild beast is 
not behind the bars of the cage, he stands in front 
of it. 

A propos of monkeys and menageries I venture 
with due modesty to pride myself on having been 
in the days of my strength a good monkey-doctor 
as well. This is an extremely difficult specialty, 
hampered by all sorts of unexpected complications 
and pitfalls, and where rapidity of judgment 
and profound knowledge of human nature are es- 
sential conditions for success. It is sheer nonsense 
to say that as with children the chief difficulty lies 
in the fact that the patient cannot speak. Mon- 
keys can speak quite well if they choose to. The 
chief difficulty is that they are far too clever for 
our slow brains. You can deceive a human patient 
deception, alas, forms a necessary part of our 
profession, the truth is so often too sad to be told. 
You can deceive a dog who believes blindly every- 
thing you say, but you cannot deceive a monkey, 
for he sees through you at once. The monkey can 
deceive you whenever he chooses and he loves to 
do it, often for sheer fun. My friend Jules, the 
aged baboon in the Jardin des Plantes, puts his 
hands on his tummy with the most pitiful air of 
dejection, and shows me his tongue it is much 
easier to make a monkey show you his tongue than 
a small child says he has completely lost his appe- 
tite and has only eaten my apple to oblige me. 
Before I have time to open my mouth to say how 
sorry I am, he has snatched my last banana from 
me, eaten it, and thrown the skin at me from the 
top of the cage. 

" Kindly look at this red spot on my back," 


says Edward. " I thought at first it was only a 
flea-bite, but now it burns like a blister. I can- 
not stand it any longer, cannot you give me some- 
thing to take away the pain? no, not there, higher 
up, come closer, I know you are somewhat short- 
sighted, let me show you the exact spot I" The 
same instant he sits in his trapeze grinning ma- 
liciously at me through my spectacles before 
breaking them to pieces to be presented as souvenirs 
to admiring comrades. Monkeys love to make fun 
of us. But the slightest suspicion that we are 
making fun of them irritates them profoundly. 
You must never laugh at a monkey, he cannot 
stand it. Their whole nervous system is extraor- 
dinarily sensitive. A sudden fright can bring them 
almost into hysterics, convulsions are not very rare 
amongst them, I have even attended a monkey 
who suffered from epilepsy. An unexpected noise 
can make them turn pale. They blush very easily, 
not from modesty, for God knows they are not 
modest, but from anger. To observe this phe- 
nomenon, however, you must not look only at the 
monkey's face, he often blushes in another, unex- 
pected place. Why their Maker, for reasons of 
his own, should have chosen this very place for 
such a rich and sensitive carnation, such a prodigal 
display of vivid colours, crimson, blue and orange, 
remains a mystery to our uneducated eyes. Many 
startled spectators do not even hesitate to pro- 
nounce it at first sight to be very ugly. But we 
must not forget that opinions as to what is beau- 
tiful or not are much at variance in different ages 
and countries. The Greeks, arbiters of beauty if 
there ever were any, painted the hair of their 


Aphrodite blue, how do you like blue hair? 
Amongst the monkeys themselves this rich car- 
nation is evidently a sign of beauty, irresistible 
to the ladies' eye, and the happy possessor of such 
a glow of colours a posteriori is often seen with 
uplifted tail turning his back upon the spectators 
in order to be admired. The monkeys are excellent 
mothers, but you must never attempt to have any- 
thing to do with their children, for like the Arab 
women folk and even Neapolitan women, they 
believe that you have got the evil eye. The stronger 
sex is somewhat inclined to flirtation and terrible 
" drames passionels " are constantly enacted in the 
big monkey-house at the Zoo, where even the 
tiniest little ouistiti becomes an infuriated Othello, 
ready to fight the biggest baboon. The ladies 
watch the tournament with sympathetic side- 
glances at their various champions and with furious 
quarrels amongst themselves. Imprisoned mon- 
keys, as long as they are in company, live on the 
whole a supportable life. They are so busy in 
finding out all that is going on inside and out- 
side their cage, so full of intrigue and gossip that 
they have hardly time to be unhappy. The life 
of an imprisoned big ape, gorilla, chimpanzee, or 
orang-outang, is of course the life of a martyr, 
pure and simple. They all fall into profound 
hypochondria if tuberculosis is too slow to kill 
them. Consumption is, as everybody knows, the 
cause of the death of most imprisoned monkeys, 
big and small. The symptoms, evolution and 
ending of the disease, are exactly the same as with 
us. It is not the cold air, but the lack of air that 
starts the disease. Most of the monkeys stand 


the cold surprisingly well, if provided with ample 
accommodation for exercise and snug sleeping 
quarters for the night, shared with a rabbit as bed 
companion for the sake of warmth. As soon as 
autumn begins, ever vigilant Mother Nature who 
watches over the monkeys as well as over us, sets to 
work to provide their shivering bodies with extra 
fur-coats, suitable for northern winters. This applies 
to most tropical animals imprisoned in northern 
climates, who would all live much longer if allowed 
to live in the open air. Most Zoological Gardens 
seem to ignore this fact. Perhaps it is better so. 
Whether the prolongation of the lives of these un- 
happy animals is a thing to be desired I leave to 
you to ponder over. My answer is in the negative. 
Death is more merciful than we are. 


PARIS in summer-time is a very pleasant place 
for those who belong to the Paris qui s'amuse, 
"but if you happen to belong to the Paris qui 
travaille, it becomes another matter. Especially 
so if you have to cope with an epidemic of typhoid 
at the Villette among the hundreds of Scandinavian 
workmen, and an epidemic of diphtheria in the 
Quartier Montpamasse among your Italian friends 
and their innumerable children. Indeed, there 
was no lack of Scandinavian children either in the 
Villette; and the few families who hadn't got any 
seemed to have chosen this very time to bring 
them to the world, as often as not with no other 
assistance, sage-femme included, than myself. 
Most of the children too small to catch typhoid 
started scarlet fever and the rest whooping-cough. 
Of course there was no money to pay for a French 
doctor, so it fell upon me to look after them as 
well as I could. It was no joke, there were over 
thirty cases of typhoid among the Scandinavian 
workmen in the Villette alone. Anyhow I man- 
aged to go to the Swedish church in Boulevard 
Ornano every Sunday to please my friend the 
Swedish chaplain, who said it was to set a good 
example to others. The congregation had dwindled 
down to half its usual number, the other half was 



in bed or nursing somebody in bed. The chaplain 
was on his legs from morning till night, assisting 
and helping the sick and the poor, a more kind- 
hearted man I have never set eyes on, and he was. 
penniless too. The only reward he ever got was 
that he brought the infection to his own home. 
The two eldest of his eight children caught typhoid,, 
five had scarlet fever, and his last born swallowed 
a two-franc piece and nearly died of intestinal 
occlusion. Then the Swedish Consul, a most 
peaceful and quiet little man, suddenly became 
a raving lunatic, and, for the matter of that, 
nearly killed me; but I will tell you this story 
another time. 

Up in Quartier Montparnasse it was a far more- 
serious business, although in many ways it seemecj 
almost easier work to me. I am ashamed to say 
that I got on much better with these poor Italians 
than with my own compatriots, who were often 
difficult to handle, sullen, dissatisfied and rather 
exacting and selfish. .The Italians on the other 
hand, who had brought nothing with them from 
their own country but their small means, their 
all-enduring patience and cheerfulness and their 
charming manners, were always satisfied and grate- 
ful and extraordinarily helpful to each other. When 
diphtheria broke out in the Salvatore family, 
Arcangelo Fusco, the street-sweeper, stopped work 
at once and became a most devoted nurse to them 
all. All three little girls caught diphtheria, the 
eldest girl died and the following day the worn- 
out mother caught the terrible disease. Only the 
child of sorrow, Petruccio, the helpless idiot, was- 
spared by the inscrutable will of God Almighty.. 


The whole Impasse Rousselle became infected, 
there was diphtheria in every house and not a 
family without several small children. Both the 
hospitals for children were over-crowded. Even 
had there been a vacant bed the chances of 
getting admission for these foreign children would 
have been next to none. So they had to be at- 
tended by Arcangelo Fusco and myself, and those 
we had no time to see, and they were many, had 
to live or die as best they could. No doctor who 
has gone through the ordeal of fighting single- 
handed an epidemic of diphtheria amongst the 
very poor with no means of disinfection either for 
others or for himself, can think of such an ex- 
perience without a shudder, however callous he 
may be. I had to sit there for hours, painting 
and scraping the throat of one child after another, 
there was not much more to be done in those days. 
And then when it was no longer possible to detach 
the poisonous membranes obstructing the air pas- 
sages, when the child became livid and on the 
point of suffocation and the urgent indication for 
tracheotomy presented itself, with lightning ra- 
pidity! Must I operate at once, with not even 
a table to put the child on, on this low bed or 
on its mother's lap, by the light of this wretched 
oil-lamp and no other assistant than a street- 
sweeper! Can't I wait till to-morrow and try to 
get hold of somebody who is more of a surgeon 
than I am? Can I wait, dare I wait? Alas! I 
have waited till to-morrow when it was too late 
and seen the child die before my eyes. I have 
also operated at once and no doubt saved the life 
of a child, but I have also operated at once and 


seen the child die under my knife. My case was 
even worse than that of many other doctors in 
a similar plight, for I was myself in deadly fear 
of diphtheria, a fear I have never been able to 
overcome. But Arcangelo Fusco was not afraid. 
He knew the danger as well as I did, for he had 
seen the terrible infection spreading from one to 
another, but he had never a single thought for 
his own safety, he only thought of the others. 
When all was over, I was complimented right and 
left, even by the Assistance Publique, but no- 
body ever said a word to Arcangelo Fusco who 
had sold his Sunday clothes to pay the undertaker 
who took away the body of the little girl. 

Yes, there came a time when all was over, when 
Arcangelo Fusco returned to his street sweeping 
and I to my fashionable patients. While I had 
been spending my days at the Villette and Mont- 
parnasse, the Parisians had been hard at work 
packing their trunks and departing to their cha- 
teaux or their favourite seaside watering-places. 
The Boulevards - were in the hands of pleasure- 
seeking foreigners who had crowded to Paris from 
all parts of the civilized and uncivilized world to 
spend their surplus money. Many were sitting 
in my waiting-room, impatiently reading their 
Baedekers, always insisting on passing in first, 
seldom asking for anything more than a pick- 
me-up, from a man much more in need of it than 
they were. Others, comfortably established on 
their chaises-longue in their smartest tea-gowns, 
derniere creation Worth, sent for me from their 
fashionable hotels at the most awkward hours of 
the day and the night, expecting me to "fix them 


up" for the Bal Masque de 1' Opera to-morrow. 
They did not send for me twice and I was not 

What a waste of time! thought I as I walked 
home, dragging my tired legs along the burning 
asphalt of the Boulevards under the dust-covered 
chestnut-trees gasping with drooping leaves for a 
breath of fresh air. 

" I know what is the matter with you and me," 
said I to the chestnut-trees, "we need a change 
of air, to get out of the atmosphere of the big 
city. But how are we to get away from this inferno, 
you with your aching roots imprisoned under the 
asphalt and with that iron ring round your feet, 
and I with all these rich Americans in my waiting- 
room and lots of other patients in their beds? And 
if I were to go away, who would look after the 
monkeys in the Jardin des Plantes? Who would 
cheer up the panting Polar Bear, now that his 
worst time was about to come? He won't under- 
stand a single word other kind people may say 
to him, he who only understands Swedish! And 
what about Quartier Montparnasse? Montpar- 
nasse! I shuddered as the word flew through my 
brain, I saw the livid face of a child in the dim 
light of a little oil-lamp, I saw the blood oozing 
from the cut I had just made in the child's throat, 
and I heard the cry of terror from the heart of 
the mother* What would the Countess say? . . . 
The Countess! No, there was decidedly some- 
thing wrong with me, it was high time to look 
after my own nerves instead of the nerves of others, 
if such things could be seen and heard on the 
Boulevard Malesherbes. And what the devil had 


I to do with the Countess? She was getting on 
splendidly in her chateau in Touraine, according 
to Monsieur 1' Abbe's last letter, and I was getting 
on splendidly in Paris, the most beautiful city in 
the world. All I was in need of was a little sleep. 
But what would the Count say if I wrote him a 
letter to-night that I gladly accepted his kind in- 
vitation and was starting to-morrow? If I could 
only sleep to-night! Why shouldn't I take myself 
one of those excellent sleeping-draughts I used to 
concoct for my patients, a strong sleeping-draught 
that would send me to sleep for twenty-four hours 
and make me forget everything, Montparnasse, the 
chateau in Touraine, the Countess and all the rest? 
I lay down on my bed without taking off my 
clothes, I was so tired. But I did not take the 
sleeping-draught, les cuisiniers n'ont pas faim, as 
they say in Paris. On entering my consulting- 
room next morning, I found a letter on the table. 
It was from Monsieur 1'Abbe with a P.S. in the 
handwriting of the Count: 

" You said you liked the song of the skylark 
the best. He is singing still, but it will not be for 
long, so you had better come soon." 

The skylark! And I who had not heard any 
other birds for two years but the sparrows in the 

Tuileries Gardens! 

* * # 

The horses which took me from the station were 
beautiful, the chateau dating from the time of 
Richelieu, in its vast park of secular lime-trees, 
was beautiful, the Louis XVI furniture in my 
sumptuous room was beautiful, the big St. Bernard 
dog who followed me upstairs was beautiful 


everything was beautiful. So was the Countess 
in her simple white frock with a single La France 
rose in her waistband. I thought her eyes had 
grown bigger than ever. The Count was alto- 
gether another man, with his rosy cheeks and wide- 
awake eyes. His charming welcome took away 
at once my shyness, I was still a barbarian from 
Ultima Thule, I had never been in such sumptuous 
surroundings before. M. TAbbe greeted me as an 
old friend. The Count said there was just time 
for a stroll in the garden before tea, or would I 
prefer to have a look at the stables? I was given 
a basket full of carrots to give one to each of a 
dozen magnificent horses who stood there in their 
well-groomed coats aligned in their boxes of pol- 
ished oak. 

" You had better give him an extra carrot to 
make friends at once," said the Count. " He be- 
longs to you as long as you are here, and this is 
your groom," he added, pointing to an English 
boy who lifted his hand to his cap to salute me. 

Yes, the Countess was wonderfully well, said 
the Count as we strolled back through the garden. 
She hardly ever spoke about her colitis, went to 
visit her poor in the village every morning and 
was discussing with the village doctor the turning 
of an old farm into an infirmary for sick children. 
On her birthday all the poor children of the village 
had been invited to the Castle for coffee and cake 
and before they left she had presented a doll to 
every child. Wasn't it a charming idea of hers? 

"If she speaks to you about her dolls, don't 
forget to say something nice to her." 

" No, I won't forget, je ne demande pas mieux." 


Tea was served under the big lime-tree in front 
of the house. 

" Here is a friend of yours, my dear Ann," said 
the Countess to the lady sitting by her side, as 
we walked up to the table. " I am sorry to say 
he seems to prefer the company of horses to ours; 
so far he hasn't had time to say a single word to 
me, but has been talking half-an-hour to the horses 
in the stables." 

" And they seemed to have liked the conversa- 
tion immensely," laughed the Count, " even my 
old hunter, you know how ill-tempered he is with 
strangers, put his nose to the doctor's face and 
sniffed at him in the most friendly manner." 

The Baroness Ann said she was glad to see me 
and gave me excellent news about her mother-in- 
law, the Marquise Douairiere. 

" She even thinks she can hear better, but of 
that I am not sure, for she cannot hear Loulou's 
snoring and gets quite angry when my husband 
says he can hear it down in the smoking-room. 
Anyhow, her beloved Loulou has been a blessing 
to us all, she could never stand being alone before 
and it was so fatiguing to talk to her the whole 
time through her ear-trumpet. Now she sits quite 
alone for hours with her Loulou on her lap and 
if you could see her cantering about in the garden 
every morning to exercise Loulou, you would 
hardly believe your eyes, she who never left her 
arm-chair. I remember how you spid that she 
must walk a little every day and how angry you 
looked when she said she hadn't got the strength. 
It is indeed a marvellous change. Of course you 
say it is all the nasty medicine you have given her, 


but I say it is Loulou, bless him, he is welcome to 
snore as much as he likes I " 

"Look at Leo," said the Count changing the 
conversation, " look at him with his head on the 
doctor's lap, as if he had known him ever since 
he was born. He has even forgotten to come and 
beg for his biscuit." 

" What is the matter with you, Leo? " said the 
Countess. "You had better look out, old boy, 
or the doctor will hypnotize you. He has been 
working with Charcot at the Salpetriere and he 
can make people do anything he likes only by 
looking at them. Why don't you make Leo speak 
Swedish with you? " 

" Certainly not, there is no language so sym- 
pathetic to my ears as his silence. I am not a 
hypnotizer, I am only a great lover of animals, 
and all animals understand this at once and love 
you in return." 

" I suppose you are just trying to mesmerize 
that squirrel on the branch over your head," said 
the Baroness, "you have been sitting staring at 
him the whole time without paying the slightest 
attention to us. Why don't you make him climb 
>4own from his tree and come and sit on your lap 
beside Leo? " 

" If you will give me a nut and all go away, I 
think I can make bin* come down and take it out 
of my hand." 

" You are polite, Monsieur le Suedois," laughed 
the Countess, "come along, Ann dear, he wants 
us all to go away and leave him alone with his 

" Don't make fun of me, I am the last to wish 


you to go away, I am so glad to see you again." 

" Vous etes tres galant, Monsieur le Docteur, 
it is the first compliment you have ever paid me, 
and I like compliments." 

" I am not a doctor here, I am your guest." 

"And cannot your doctor pay you a compli- 
ment? " 

" Not if the patient looks like you and the doctor 
is under the age of your father, not even if he 
wants to badly." 

"Well, all I can say is that if ever you wanted 
to, you have jolly well resisted the temptation. 
You have bullied me almost every time I have 
seen you. The first time I set eyes on you, you 
were so rude to me that I nearly went away, don't 
you remember? Ann dear, do you know what he 
said to me? He looked sternly at me and said 
with his most atrocious Swedish accent: * Madame 
la Comtesse, you are more in need of discipline 
than of drugs!* Discipline! Is that the way a 
Swedish doctor speaks to a young lady the first 
time she comes to consult him? " 

" I am not a Swedish doctor, I have taken my 
degree in Paris." 

"Well, I have consulted dozens of Paris doc* 
tors, but no one has ever dared to speak to me 
about discipline." 

" That is the very reason why you have been 
obliged to consult so many." 

"Do you know what he said to my mother- 
in-law? " rejoined the Baroness. " He said in a 
very angry voice that if she didn't obey him, he 
would go away and never come back, even if she 
had colitis! I heard it myself from the drawing- 


room and when I rushed in I thought the Mar- 
quise was going to have a fit. You know I am 
recommending you to all my friends, but don't 
take it amiss if I tell you that you Swedes are 
much too rough-handed for us Latin people. I 
have been told by more than one of your patients 
that your bed-side manners are deplorable. We 
are not accustomed to be ordered about like school- 

"Why don't you try to be a little more 
amiable? " smiled the Countess enjoying the fun 

" I wiU try." 

"Tell us a story/* said the Baroness, as we 
were sitting in the drawing-room after dinner. 
" You doctors come across so many odd people 
and are mixed up in so many strange situations. 
You know more of real life than anybody else, 
I am sure you have a lot to tell us if you 
want to." 

"Perhaps you are right, but we are not sup- 
posed to talk about our patients, and as to real 
life, I am afraid I am too young to know much 
about it." 

" Tell us at least what you do know," insisted 
the Baroness. 

" I know that life is beautiful, but I also know 
that we often make a mess of it and turn it into 
a silly farce or a heart-rending tragedy, or both, 
so much so that one ends by not knowing whether 
to cry or to laugh. It is easier to cry, but far 
better to laugh, so long as one doesn't laugh 


" Tell us an animal story," said the Countess 
to help me on to safer ground. " They say your 
country is full of bears, fell us something about 
them, tell us a Bear-story! " 

"There was once a lady who lived in an old 
manor-house on the border of a big forest, high 
up in the North. This lady had a pet bear she 
was very fond of. It had been found in the 
forest half -dead of hunger, so small and helpless 
that it had to be brought up on the bottle by the 
lady and the old cook. This was several years 
ago and now it had grown up to a big bear, so 
big and strong that he could have slain a cow 
and carried it away between his two paws if he 
had wanted to. But he did not want to, he was 
a most amiable bear who did not dream of harm- 
ing anybody, man or beast. He used to sit out- 
side his kennel and look with his small intelligent 
eyes most amicably at the cattle grazing in the 
field near by. The three shaggy mountain ponies 
in the stable knew him well and did not mind 
in the least when he shuffled into the stable with 
his mistress. The children used to ride on his back 
and had more than once been found asleep in his 
kennel between his two paws. The three Lap- 
land dogs loved to play all sorts of games with 
liim, pull his ears and his stump of a tail and 
tease him in every way, but he did not mind it 
in the least. He had never tasted meat, he ate 
the same food as the dogs and often out of the 
same plate, bread, porridge, potatoes, cabbages, 
turnips. He had a fine appetite, but his friend 
the cook saw to it that he got his fill. Bears are 


vegetarians if they have a chance, fruit is what 
they like the best. In the autumn he used to sit 
and look with wistful eyes at the ripening apples 
in the orchard and in his young days he had been 
sometimes unable to resist the temptation to climb 
the tree and help himself to a handful of them. 
Bears look clumsy and slow in their movements, 
but try a bear with an apple-tree and you will 
soon find out that he can easily beat any school- 
boy at that game. Now he had learnt that it 
was against the law, but he kept his small eyes 
wide-open for any apples that fell to the ground. 
There had also been some difficulties about the 
beehives; he had been punished for this by being 
put on the chain for two days with a bleeding 
nose and he had never done it again. Otherwise 
he was never put on the chain except for the night 
and quite rightly so, for a bear, like a dog, is 
apt to get somewhat ill-tempered if kept on the 
chain, and no wonder. He was also put on the 
chain on Sundays when his mistress went to spend 
the afternoon with her married sister who lived 
in a solitary house on the other side of the moun- 
tain-lake, a good hour's walk through the dense 
forest. It was not supposed to be good for him 
to wander about in the forest with all its 
temptations, it was better to be on the safe 
side. He was also a bad sailor and had once 
taken such a fright at a sudden gust of wind 
that he had upset the boat and he and his mis- 
tress had had to swim to the shore. Now he 
knew quite well what it meant when his mistress 
put him on the chain on Sundays, with a friendly 
tap on his head and the promise of an apple on 


her return if he had been good during her 
absence. He was sorry but resigned, like a good 
dog when his mistress tells him he cannot come 
with her for a walk. One Sunday when the lady 
had chained him up as usual and was about 
half-way through the forest, she suddenly thought 
she heard the cracking of a tree-branch on the 
winding foot-path behind her. She looked back 
and was horrified to see the bear coming along 
full-speed. Bears look as if they move along 
quite slowly but they shuffle along much faster 
than a trotting horse. In a minute he had joined 
her, panting and sniffing, to take up his usual 
place, dog-fashion, at her heels. The lady was 
very angry, she was already late for luncheon, 
there was no time to take him back home, she 
did not want him to come with her, and it was 
besides very naughty of him to have disobeyed 
her and broken away from his chain. She ordered 
him in her severest voice to go back at once, men- 
acing him with her parasol. He stopped a mo- 
ment and looked at her with his cunning eyes, 
but did not want to go back and kept on sniffing 
at her. When the lady saw that he had even lost 
his new collar, she got still more angry and hit 
him on the nose with her parasol so hard that it 
broke in two. He stopped again, shook his head 
and opened his big mouth several times as if 
he wanted to say something. Then he turned 
round and began to shuffle back the way he had 
come, stopping now and then to look at the lady 
tifl at last she lost sight of him. When the lady 
came home in the evening, he was sitting in his 
usual place outside his kennel looking very sorry 


for himself. The lady was still very angry, and 
went up to him and began to scold him most 
severely and said he would have no apple and no 
supper and that he would have to be chained for 
two days as well. The old cook who loved the 
bear as if he had been her son rushed out from 
the kitchen very angry: 

* What are you scolding him for, missus! * said 
the cook, *he has been as good as gold the 
whole day, bless him! He has been sitting here 
quite still on his haunches as meek as an angel, 
looking the whole time towards the gate for you 
to come back/ 

It was another bear." 

The clock in the tower struck eleven. 

" Time to go to bed," said the Count. " I have 
ordered our horses for seven o'clock to-morrow 

" Sleep well and pleasant dreams," said the 
Countess as I went up to my room. 

I did not sleep much, but I dreamt a lot. 

Leo scratched at my door at six next morning 
and punctually at seven the Count and I rode 
down the avenue of splendid old lime-trees lead- 
ing to the woods. Soon we were in a real forest 
of elms and beeches with here and there a mag- 
nificent oak. The woods were silent, only now 
and then we heard the rhythmic tapping of 
the wood-pecker or the cooing of a wild pigeon, 
the sharp cry of a nut-hatch or the deep alto 
of a blackbird singing the last stropihes of his 
ballad. Soon we emerged on a vast open stretch 


of fields and meadows in full sunlight. There 
he was, the beloved skylark, quivering on invisible 
wings high up in the sky, pouring out his 
very heart to heaven and earth with thrills of joy 
of life. I looked at the little bird and blessed 
him again as I had so often done before in the 
frozen North when as a child I used to sit and 
watch with grateful eyes the grey little messen- 
ger of summer, sure at last that the long winter 
was over. 

" It is his last concert," said the Count. " His 
time is up, he will soon have to set to work to 
help to feed his children and there will be no more 
time for singing and skylarking. You are right, 
he is the greatest artist of them all, he sings from 
his very heart." 

" To think that there are men capable of kill- 
ing this harmless little songster! You have only 
to go to Les Halles to find them in hundreds 
and hundreds for sale to other men who have the 
stomach to eat them. Their voices fill the whole 
sky overhead with gladness but their poor little 
dead bodies are so small that a child can clasp 
them in the palm of his hand, and yet we eat them 
with gluttony as though there was nothing else 
to eat. We shudder at the very word of canni- 
balism and we hang the savage who wants to in- 
dulge in this habit of his ancestors, but the 
murdering and eating of little birds remains un- 

" You are an idealist, my dear doctor." 

" No, they call it sentimentality and only sneer 
at it. Let them sneer as much as they like, I do 
not care. But mark my words I The time will 


come when they will cease to sneer, when they 
will understand that the animal world was placed 
by the Creator under our protection, and not at 
our mercy: that animals have as much right to 
live as we have, and that our right to take 
their lives is strictly limited to our right of 
defence and our right of existence. The time will 
come when the mere pleasure of killing will die 
out in man. As long as it is there, man has no 
claim to call himself civilized, he is a mere bar- 
barian, a missing link between his wild ancestors 
who slew each other with stone axes for a piece 
of raw flesh and the man of the future. The 
necessity of killing wild animals is indisputable, 
but their executioners, the proud hunters of to-day, 
will sink down to the same level as the butchers 
of domestic animals." 

** Perhaps you are right," said the Count look- 
ing up in the sky once more as we turned our horses 
and rode back to the Castle. 

While we were at luncheon, a valet brought the 
Countess a telegram which she handed to the 
Count who read it without saying a word. 

"I think you have already met my cousin 
Maurice," said the Countess. "He wiH be here 
for dinner if he can catch the four o'clock train, 
he is in garrison in Tours." 

Yes, the Vicomte Maurice was with us for 
dinner, very much so. He was a tall, handsome 
young fellow with a narrow, sloping forehead, 
enormous ears, a cruel jaw and a moustache a la 
general Gallif et. 

" Quel plaisir inattendu, Monsieur le Suedois, 


to meet you here, very unexpected I am sure! " 
This time he condescended to give me his hand, 
a small, flabby hand with a particularly un- 
pleasant grip which facilitated my classification 
of the man. Remained only to hear him laugh 
and he lost no time to offer me this opportunity. 
His loud monotonous giggle echoed through 
the room during the whole of dinner. He began 
at once to tell the Countess a very risky story of 
the misadventure which had just happened to 
one of his comrades who had found his mistress 
in the bed of his orderly. Monsieur 1'Abbe was 
beginning to look very uncomfortable when the 
Count cut him short by telling his wife across 
the table about our morning-ride, that the wheat 
was in excellent condition, the clover abundant 
and that we heard a belated skylark singing his 
last concert. 

" Nonsense," said the Vicomte. " There are 
still plenty of them on the wing, I shot one 
yesterday and a finer shot I never made, the 
little beast did not look bigger than a butter- 

I got red in my face -to the roots of my hair 
but the Abbe stopped me in time by putting his 
hand on my knee. 

" You are a brute, Maurice," said the Countess, 
"to kill a skylark." 

"And why shouldn't I shoot a skylark? 
There are plenty of them and they are besides 
an excellent target for practising, I know of none 
better unless it be a swallow. You know, my 
dear Juliette, I am the crack shot of my regiment 
and unless I keep on practising I shall soon get 


rusty. Luckily there are any amount of swal- 
lows round our barracks, hundreds and hundreds 
are nesting under the eaves of the stables, they 
are busy feeding their young just now and darting 
to and fro the whole time just before my window. 
It is great fun, I have a go at them every morn- 
ing without even leaving my room. Yesterday 
I made a bet of a thousand francs with Gaston 
that I would drop six out of ten and, would you 
believe it, I dropped eight 1 I know nothing better 
for daily practice than swallows. I always say 
it ought to be made compulsory in all ficoles de 
Tir." He stopped a moment carefully counting 
the drops he was pouring in his wine-glass from 
a little bottle of medicine. 

" Now, Juliette dear, don't be silly, come along 
with me to Paris to-morrow, you need a little 
spree after having been here all alone for weeks 
in this out-of-the-way place. It will be a splen- 
did sight, the finest tournament there has ever 
been, all the best shots of France will be there, 
and as sure as my name is Maurice, you will see 
the gold medal offered by the President of 
the Republic handed over to your cousin. We 
will have a jolly dinner at the Cafe Anglais 
and then I will take you to the Palais Royal to 
see * Une nuit de noces/ It is a' most charming 
play, very rigolo indeed, I have seen it already 
four times but I should love to see it again with 
you at my side. The bed stands in the middle 
of the stage with the lover hidden under it and 
the bridegroom who is an old . . ." 

The Count, visibly annoyed, made a sign to his 
wife and we stood up from the table. 


" I could never kill a skylark," said the Count 

" No, my dear Robert," roared the Vicomte, " I 
know you couldn't, you would miss it! " 

I went up to my room almost in tears with 
suppressed rage and shame of having suppressed 
it. While I was packing my bag, the Abbe entered 
the room. I begged him to tell the Count I had 
been summoned to Paris and was obliged to take 
the midnight train. 

"I never want to set my eyes upon this con- 
founded brute any more or I will smash his insolent 
monocle out of his empty head! " 

" You had better not attempt anything of the 
sort or he would kill you outright. It is quite 
true he is a famous shot, I do not know how many 
duels he has fought, he is always quarrelling 
with people, he has a very nasty tongue. All I 
ask of you is to keep your nerves in hand for 
thirty-six hours. He is going away to-morrow 
night for the tournament in Paris, and let me tell 
you, entre nous, that I shall be as glad to see him 
go as you are." 


The Abbe remained silent. 

"Well, Monsieur 1'Abbe, I will tell you why. 
Because he is in love with his cousin and you dislike 
and distrust him." 

" Since you have guessed the truth, and God 
knows how, I had better tell you, he wanted to 
marry her, but she refused him. Luckily she 
doesn't like him." 

" But she fears him, which is almost worse." 


" The Count dislikes very much his friend- 
ship with the Countess and that is why he 
didn't want her to remain alone in Paris where 
he was always taking her out to parties and 

" I do not believe he is going away to-mor- 


" He is sure to go, he is much too keen on 
getting his Gold Medal as he very likely will, it 
is quite true he is a crack shot." 

" I wish I was, I would like to shoot down 
this brute to avenge the swallows. Do you know 
anything about his parents? I guess there is some- 
thing wrong there." 

" His mother was a German Countess and very 
beautiful, he gets his good looks from her, but 
I understand it was a very unhappy marriage. 
His father was a heavy drinker and was known 
as an irascible and queer man. He got almost mad 
in the end. There are people who say he com* 
mitted suicide." 

" I earnestly hope his son will follow his example, 
the sooner the better. As to being mad, he is not 
far from it." 

" You are right, it is true that the Vicomte is 
very odd in many ways. For instance he, who 
as you can see is as strong as a horse, is 
always fussing about his health and in con- 
stant fear of catching all sorts of illnesses. Last 
time he was staying here, the son of the gar- 
dener caught typhoid and he left at once. He 
is always taking drugs, you may have noticed 
he even helped himself to some medicine during 


"Yes, it was the only moment he held his 

"He is always consulting new doctors, it is 
unfortunate that he does not like you, otherwise 
I am sure you would get a new patient. . . . What 
on earth are you laughing at? " 

" I am laughing at something very funny that has 
just passed through my head. There is nothing 
better than a good laugh for a man who is angry! 
You saw in what a state I was when you came into 
my room. You will be glad to hear that I am all 
right again now and in the best of tempers. I have 
changed my mind, I am not going away to-night. 
Do let us go down and join the others in the smok- 
ing-room. I promise you to be on my very best 

The Vicomte, red in the face, was standing 
in front of the big mirror nervously twitch- 
ing his moustache a la general Gallifet. The 
Count was sitting near the window reading his 
' Figaro/ 

" Quel plaisir inattendu to meet you here, 
Monsieur le Suedois! " giggled the Vicomte, screw- 
ing in his monocle as if to see better how much I 
would stand. " I hope no new case of colitis has 
brought you here." 

" No, not so far, but one never knows." 

" I understand you specialize in colitis, what a 
pity nobody else seems to know anything about 
this most interesting disease, you evidently keep 
it all to yourself. Will you oblige me by telling 
me what is colitis? Is it catching? " 

" No, not in the ordinary sense of the word." 

" Is it dangerous? " 


"No, not if taken in hand immediately, and 
properly attended to." 

" By you, I suppose? " 

" I am not a doctor here, the Count has been 
kind enough to invite me here as his guest." 

"Really! But what will happen to all your 
patients in Paris while you are away? " 

" I suppose they will recover." 

" I am sure they will," roared the Vicomte. 

I had to go and sit down beside the Abbe and 
get hold of a paper to steady myself. The 
Vicomte looked nervously at the clock over the 

" I am going up to fetch Juliette for a stroll 
in the park, it is a pity to remain indoors in this 
beautiful moonlight." 

"My wife has gone to bed," said the Count 
drily from his chair, " she was not feeling very 

" Why the devil didn't you tell me? " retorted 
the Vicomte angrily, helping himself to another 
glass of brandy and soda. 

The Abbe was reading the * Journal des Debats/ 
but I noticed that his sly old eye never stopped 
watching us. 

" Any news, Monsieur TAbb6? " 

" I was just reading about the tournament of 
' La Societ6 du Tir de France ' the day after to- 
morrow and that the President has offered a gold 
medal to the winner." 

" I will bet you a thousand francs that it will 
be mine," shouted the Vicomte, banging his fist 
on his broad chest, "unless there is a railway 
smash on the Paris night-express to-morrow or* 


he added with a malicious grin at me, " unless I get 

" Stop that brandy, Maurice," said the Count 
from his corner, " you have had more than is good 
for you, tu es saoul comme un Polonais ! " 

" Cheer up, Doctor Colitis," giggled the Vicomte, 
" don't look so dejected. Have a brandy and 
soda, there may still be a chance for you! I 
am sorry I cannot oblige you, but why don't you 
have a go at the Abbe who is always complaining 
about his liver and his digestion. Monsieur 1'Abbe, 
won't you oblige Doctor Colitis, can't you see he 
is longing to have a look at your tongue? " 

The Abbe kept reading his c Journal des Debats ' 
in silence. 

"You won't! And what about you, Robert? 
You looked sulky enough during dinner. Why 
don't you show your tongue to the Suedois? 
I am sure you have got colitis! Won't you 
oblige the doctor? No? Well, Doctor Colitis, 
you have no luck. But to put you in better 
spirits I will show you mine, have a good look 
at it." 

He put out his tongue to me with a diabolical 
grin. He looked like one of the gargoyles of 
Notre Dame. 

I stood up and examined his tongue atten- 

"You have a very nasty tongue," said I 
gravely, after a moment's silence, " a very nasty 
tongue!" He turned round immediately to 
examine his tongue in the mirror the ugly, 
coated tongue of the inveterate smoker. I took 
his hand and felt his pulse, slashed to fever speed 


by a bottle of champagne and three brandies and 

" Your pulse is very quick," said I. 

I put my hand on his sloping forehead. 

"Any headache?" 

" No." 

" You will have it when you wake up to-morrow 
morning, no doubt." 

The Abbe dropped his * Journal des Debats/ 

" Unbutton your trousers," I said sternly. 

He obeyed automatically, docile like a lamb. 

I gave him a rapid tap over his diaphragm, 
which started a hiccup. 

" Ah! " said I. Looking him fixedly in the eyes, 
I said slowly: " Thank you, that is enough." 

The Count dropped his e Figaro. 5 

The Abbe raised his arms to Heaven, his mouth 
wide open. 

The Vicomte stood speechless before me. 

" Button your trousers," I commanded, " and 
have a brandy and soda, you will need it." He 
buttoned his trousers mechanically and gulped 
down the brandy and soda I handed him. 

" To your health, Monsieur le Vicomte," 
said I, raising my glass to my lips, "to your 

He wiped the perspiration from his forehead 
and turned again to look at his tongue in the 
mirror. He made a desperate effort to laugh, 
which however did not succeed. 

" Do you mean to say that, do you think, do 
you mean to say . . ." 

"I do not mean to say anything, I have not 
said anything, I am not your doctor/* 


" But what am I to do? " he stammered. 

" You are to go to bed, the sooner the better, 
or you will have to be carried there." I went to 
the mantelpiece and rang the bell. 

" Take the Vicomte to his room," I said to the 
footman, " and tell his valet to put him to bed 
at once." 

Leaning heavily on the arm of the footman, the 
Vicomte reeled to the door. 

I went for a beautiful ride next morning all 
by myself, and there was the lark again high up 
in the sky, singing his morning hymn to the sun. 

" I have avenged the murder of your brothers," 
said I to the skylark, "We will see about the 
swallows later on." 

While I was sitting in my room having break- 
fast with Leo, there was a knock at the door 
and in came a timid-looking little man who saluted 
me most politely. It was the village doctor who 
said he had come to pay his respects to his Paris 
colleague. I was much flattered and begged him 
to sit down and have a cigarette. He told me 
about some interesting cases he had had of late, 
the conversation began to languish and he stood 
up to go. 

"By-the-by, I was sent for last night to 
Vicomte Maurice and have just called on him 

I said I was sorry to hear the Vicomte was 
unwell, knit hoped it was nothing serious, I had 
the pleasure to see him last night at dinner in 
splendid health and spirits. 


" I don't know," said the Doctor, " the case is 
somewhat obscure, I think it is safer to postpone 
a definite opinion." 

"You are a wise man, mon cher confrere, of 
course you keep hi in bed? " 

" Of course. It is unfortunate the Vicomte was 
to leave for Paris to-day, but that is of course 
out of the question." 

" Of course. Is he lucid? " 

"Fairly so." 

" As much as can be expected from him, I sup- 
pose? " 

" To tell you the truth I took it at first for a 
simple embarras gastrique, but he woke up with 
a violent headache and now a persistent hiccup 
has set in. He looks wretched, he himself is con- 
vinced he has got colitis. I confess I have never 
attended a case of colitis, I wanted to give him a 
dose of castor-oil, he has a very nasty tongue, but 
if colitis is anything like appendicitis, I suppose 
it is better to beware of the castor-oil. What do 
you think? He is feeling his pulse the whole time 
when he is not looking at his tongue. Strange to 
say he feels very hungry, he was furious when I 
did not allow him his breakfast." 

" You were quite right, you had better be firm 
and keep on the safe side, nothing but water for 
the next forty-eight hours." 

" Quite so." 

" It is not for me to give you any advice, it is 
dear you know your business, but I do not share 
your hesitation about the castor-oil. If I were you, 
I would give him a stiff dose, no good mincing it, 
three table spoon-fulls would do him a lot of good." 


" Did you really mean to say three table spoon- 

" Yes, at least, and above all no food whatsoever, 
only water." 

" Quite so/' 

I liked the village doctor very much and we 
parted great friends. 

In the afternoon the Countess drove me to 
pay my respects to the Marquise Douairiere. 
A beautiful drive through shadowy lanes full of 
bird-twitter and humming insects. The Countess 
had got tired of teasing me, but she was in 
excellent spirits and seemed not to worry in the 
least about the sudden illness of her cousin. The 
Marquise was going on splendidly, she said, but 
had been terribly upset a week ago by the sudden 
disappearance of Loulou, the whole household 
had been on their legs during the night in search 
of him. The Marquise had not closed her eyes 
and was still prostrated in her bed when Loulou 
had turned up in the afternoon with an ear split 
in two and an eye nearly out of its socket. His 
mistress had wired at once for the vet from Tours, 
and Loulou was all right again. Loulou and I 
were formally introduced to each other by the Mar- 
quise. Had I ever seen such a beautiful dog? No, 

"Why," snored Loulou reproachfully at me, 
" you who pretend to be a great lover of dogs, you 
don't mean to say you don't recognize me? Don't 
you remember when you took me out of that dread- 
ful dog-shop in ..." 

Anxious to change the conversation, I invited 


Loulou to sniff at my hand. He stopped short, 
began to sniff attentively each finger in turn. 

" Yes, of course I can smell quite distinctly your 
own particular smell. I remember it quite well 
since I smelt it last time in the dog-shop, in fact 
I rather like your smell. . . . Ah! " He sniffed 
eagerly. " By St. Rocco, the patron saint of all 
dogs, I smell a bone, a big bone! Where is the 
bone? Why didn't you give it to me? These silly 
people never give me a bone, they imagine it is bad 
for a little dog, aren't they fools! To whom did 
you give the bone? " He jumped in one bound on 
to my lap, sniffing furiously. "Well, I never! 
Another dog! And only the head of a dog! A big 
dog! An enormous dog, with the saliva dripping 
down the corner of his mouth! Can it be a St. Ber- 
nard ! I am a small dog and I suffer somewhat from 
asthma, but my heart is in the right place, I am 
not afraid, and you had better tell this big elephant 
of yours to mind his own business and not come 
near me or my mistress or I will eat him alive! " 
He sniffed contemptuously. " Spratt's biscuits! 
So that is what you had for dinner last night, you 
big vulgar brute, the very smell of those disgusting 
hard cakes they forced me to eat in the dog-shop, 
makes me feel quite sick! No Spratt's biscuits for 
me, thank you ! I prefer Albert biscuits and ginger 
nuts or a big slice of that almond cake on the table. 
Spratt's biscuits ! " He crawled back on the lap of 
his mistress as fast as his fat little legs allowed 

" Do come back before you return to Paris," said 
the kind Marquise, 

" Yes, do come back," snored Loulou, " you are 


not such a bad sort after all! I say," signalled 
Loulou to me as I stood up to go, " it is full moon 
to-morrow, I am feeling very restless and wouldn't 
mind a little spree/ 5 He blinked cunningly at me. 
" Do you Happen to know if there are any small 
pug-ladies in the neighbourhood? Don't tell my 
mistress, she understands nothing about this sort 
of thing. ... I say, never mind the size, any size 
will do if it comes to the worst! " 

Yes, Loulou was right, it was full moon. I do 
not like the moon. The mysterious stranger has 
taken too much sleep out of my eyes and whispered 
too many dreams into my ears. There is no mys- 
tery about the sun, the radiant god of the day who 
brought life and light to our dark world and still 
watches over us with his shining eye, long after all 
the other gods, those seated on the banks of the 
Nile, those of Olympus and those of Walhalla have 
vanished into gloom. But nobody knows anything 
about the mooia, the pale night-wanderer amongst 
the stars, who keeps staring at us from afar with 
her sleepless, cold glittering eyes and her mocking 

The Count did not mind the moon, as long as he 
was allowed to sit in peace in his smoking-room 
with his after-dinner cigar and his * Figaro/ The 
Countess loved the moon. She loved its mysterious 
twilight, she loved its haunting dreams. She loved 
to lie silent in the boat and look up at the stars 
while I rowed her slowly across the shining lake. 
She loved to wander about under the old lime-trees 
in the park, now flooded with silvery light, now 
shaded in a darkness so deep that she had to take 


my arm to find the way. She loved to sit on a 
lonely bench and stare with her big eyes into the 
silent night. Now and then she spoke, but not 
often, and I liked her silence just as much as her 

" Why don't you like the moon? " 

" I don't know. I believe I am afraid of 

" What are you afraid of? " 

" I don't know. It is so light that I can see your 
eyes like two luminous stars and yet it is so dark 
that I fear I might lose my way. I am a stranger 
in this land of dreams." 

" Give me your hand and I will show you the 
way. I thought your hand was so strong, why does 
it tremble so? Yes, you are right, it is only a 
dream, don't speak or it will fly away! Listen! do 
you hear, it is the nightingale." 

" No, it is the garden warbler." 

"I am sure it is the nightingale, don't speak! 
Listen! Listen! " 

Juliette sang with her tender voice, caressing like 
the night wind among the leaves: 

** Non, non, ce n'est pas le jour, 

" Ce n'est pas 1'alouette, 

" Dont les chants ont frappe ton oreille inqniete, 

" C'est le rossignol 

" Messager de ramour." 

" Don't speak! Don't speak! " 

An owl hooted its sinister warning from the tree 
over our heads. She sprang up with a cry of fear. 
We walked back in silence. 

"Good night," said the Countess as she left 


me in the hall. " To-morrow is full moon. A 

Leo slept in my room, it was a great secret and 
we felt both rather guilty about it. 

"Where have you been and why are you so 
pale?" asked Leo as we crept stealthily upstairs. 
" All the lights in the Castle are out and all the 
dogs in the village are silent. It must be very 

" I have been far away in a strange land full of 
mystery and dreams, I nearly lost my way." 

" I was just dropping off to sleep in my kennel 
when the owl woke me up in time to sneak into the 
hall when you came." 

" It also woke me up just in time, Leo dear, do 
you like the owl? " 

" No," said Leo, " I prefer a young pheasant, I 
have just eaten one, I saw him running in the moon- 
light before my very nose. I know it is against 
the law, but I could not resist the temptation. You 
won't give me away to the game-keeper, will 
you? " 

" No, my friend, and you won't give me away to 
the butler that we came home so late? " 

" Of course not." 

" Leo, are you at least sorry that you stole that 
young pheasant? " 

" I am trying to be sorry." 

" But it is not easy," said I. 

" No," muttered Leo, licking his lips. 

" Leo, you are a thief, and you are not the only 
one here, and you are a bad watch-dog! You who 
are here to keep thieves away, why don't you rouse 


your master at once with that big voice of yours 
instead of sitting here looking at me with such 
friendly eyes?" 

" I can't help it. I like you." 

" Leo, my friend, it is all the fault of the drowsy 
night-watchman up there in the sky! Why didn't 
he turn his bull's eye lantern on every dark corner 
of the park where there is a bench under an old 
lime-tree instead of pulling his nightcap of clouds 
over his bald old head and dozing off to sleep, 
handing over his job as a night watchman to his 
friend the owl? Or did he only pretend he was 
asleep and keep watching us the whole time from 
the corner of his wicked eye, the sly old sinner, 
decrepit old Don Juan, strutting about among 
the stars like le vieux marcheur on the boule- 
vards, too worn out himself to make love but enjoy- 
ing still to watch others making fools of them- 

" Some people pretend the moon is a beautiful 
young lady," said Leo. 

"Don't believe it, my friend! The moon is 
a dried-up old spinster spying from afar with 
treacherous eyes the immortal tragedy of mortal 

" The moon is a ghost," said Leo. 

"A ghost? Who told you that? " 

"An ancestor of mine heard it ages ago in 
the pass of St* Bernard from an old bear who 
had heard it from Atta Troll, who had heard it 
from the Great Bear himself who rules over all 
bears. Why, they are all afraid of the moon up 
there in the sky. No wonder we dogs are afraid 
of it and bark at it, when even the brilliant 


Sirius, the Dog star who rides over all dogs, 
turns pale when it creeps out of its grave and 
lifts its sinister face out of the darkness. Down 
here on our earth do you think you are the only 
one who cannot sleep when the moon is up! 
Why, all wild animals and all creeping and crawl- 
ing things in forests and fields leave their lairs and 
wander about .in fear of its malicious rays. Indeed, 
you must have been looking hard at somebody else 
to-night in the park or surely you would have seen 
that it was a ghost that was watching you the whole 
time. It likes to creep under the lime-trees in an 
old park, to haunt the ruins of a castle or a church, 
to roam about an old cemetery and bend over every 
grave to read the name of the dead. It loves to 
sit and stare for hours with steel grey eyes on the 
desolation of the snowfields which cover the dead 
earth like a shroud, or to peep in through a bed- 
room window to frighten the sleeper with a sinister 

" Enough, Leo, don't let us talk any more about 
the moon, or we shall not sleep a wink to-night, it 
makes me feel quite creepy! Kiss me good-night, 
my friend, and let us go to bed." 

" But you will close the shutters, won't you? " 
said Leo. 

" Yes, I always do when there is a moon." 

While we were having our breakfast next morn- 
ing, I told Leo that I had to go back to Paris at 
once, it was safest so, because it was full moon 
to-day and I was twenty-six and his mistress was 
twenty-five or was it twenty-nine? Leo had seen 
me pack my bag and every dog knows what that 


means. I went down to Monsieur 1'Abbe and told 
him the usual lie that I was summoned to an im- 
portant consultation and had to leave the castle 
by the morning train. He said he was very sorry. 
The Count who was just getting into the saddle 
for his morning ride also said he was sorry, and of 
course it was out of the question to disturb the 
Countess at so early an hour. I was besides to 
come back very soon. 

As I drove to the station I met my friend the 
village doctor returning in his dog-cart from his 
morning visit to the Vicomte. The patient was 
feeling very low and was yelling for food, but the 
doctor had been firm in his refusal to take the re- 
sponsibility of allowing anything but water. The 
poultice on the stomach and the icebag on the head 
had been kept going the whole night greatly inter- 
fering with the patient's sleep. Had I anything 
to suggest? 

No, I felt sure he was in excellent hands. May- 
be, if the condition remained stationary he might 
try for a change to put the icebag on the stomach 
and the poultice on the head. 

How long did I think, if no complications 
set in, that the patient ought to be kept in 

" At least for another week, till the moon was 

The day had been long. I was glad to be back 
in Avenue de Villiers. I went straight to bed. I 
did not feel very well, I wondered if I had not got 
a bit of fever, but doctors never understand if they 
have fever or not. I fell asleep at once, so tired 


did I feel. I do not know how long I had been 
sleeping when suddenly I became aware that I was 
not alone in the room. I opened my eyes and saw 
a livid face at the window staring at me with white 
hollow eyes f or once I had forgotten to close the 
shutters. Slowly and silently something crept into 
the room and stretched a long white arm like the 
tentacle of an enormous octopus, across the floor 
towards the bed. 

" So you want to go back to the Chateau after 
all!" it chuckkd with its toothless mouth and 
bloodless lips. " It was nice and cosy last night 
under the lime-trees, wasn't it, with me as Best 
Man and choruses of nightingales singing around 
you? Nightingales in August! Indeed you must 
have been far away in a very distant land, you 
two! And now you want to get back there to- 
night, don't you? Well, put on your clothes and 
climb on this white moonbeam of mine you were 
polite enough to call the arm of an octopus and 
I will put you back under the lime-trees in less 
than a minute, my light travels as fast as your 

"I am not dreaming any more, I am wide 
awake and I do not want to go back, ghost of 

" So you are dreaming that you are awake, are 
you! And you have not yet exhausted your 
vocabulary of silly abuse! Ghost of Mephisto! 
You have already called me vieux marcheur, Don 
Juan and a spying old spinster! Yes, I did spy 
on you last night in the park and I should like to 
know which of us two was made up as Don Juan, 
unless you wish me to call you Romeo? By 


Jupiter, you don't look like him! Blind Fool 
is your right name, fool who cannot even see 
what that beast of a dog of yours could see, 
that I have no age, no sex, no life, that I am a 

"The ghost of what?" 

"The ghost of a dead world. Beware of 
ghosts! You had better stop your insults, or I 
will strike you blind with a flash of my subtle rays 
far more deadly to the eye of man than the golden 
arrow of the sun-god himself. It is my last word 
to you, blasphemous dreamer! Dawn is already 
approaching from the eastern sky, I have to go 
back to my grave or I shall not see my way. I 
am old and tired. Do you think it is easy work 
to have to wander about from night till morning 
when everything else is at rest? You call me 
sinister and sombre, do you think it is easy to be 
cheerful when you have to live in a grave, if you 
can call that living, as some of you mortals do? 
You will go to your grave yourself one day and so 
will the earth you are standing upon now, doomed 
to death like yourself." 

I looked at the ghost and saw for the first time 
how old and weary it looked and I would have felt 
almost sorry for it had not its threat to strike me 
blind roused my anger once more. 

" Clear out from here, gloomy old Undertaker," 
I shouted, " there is no chance of a job for you 
here, I am full of life!" 

"Do you know," it chuckled, creeping on the 
bed and putting its long white arm on my shoulder, 
" do you know why you put that fool of a Vicomte 
to bed with an ice bag on his stomach? To avenge 


the swallows? I know better. You are a humbug, 
Othello. It was to prevent him from strolling 
about in the moonlight with the . . ." 

"Draw in that claw of yours, venomous old 
spider, or I shall spring out of bed and close with 

I made a violent effort to rouse my sleeping limbs, 
and I woke dripping with perspiration. 

The room was filled with soft silvery light. Sud- 
denly the scales fell from my bewitched eyes and 
through the open window I saw the full moon, beau- 
tiful and serene, looking down upon me from a 
cloudless sky. 

Virginal goddess Luna! can you hear me through 
the stillness of the night? You look so mild, but 
you look so sad, can you understand sorrow? Can 
you forgive? Can you heal wounds with the bal- 
sam of your pure light? Can you teach forgetful- 
ness? Come sweet sister and sit down by my side, 
I am so weary ! Lay your cool hand on my burning 
forehead to put my unruly thoughts to rest ! Whis- 
per in my ears what I am to do and where I am to 
go to forget the song of the Sirens ! 

I went up to the window and stood a long while 
watching the Queen of the Night treading her 
path among the stars. I knew them well from 
many a sleepless night and one by one I called 
them by their names: the flaming Sirius, Castor 
and Pollux, beloved by the ancient mariners, 
Arcturus, Aldebaran, Capella, Vega, Cassiopeia! 
What was the name of that luminous star just over 
my head beckoning to me with its steady, true light? 
I knew it well. Many a night had I steered my 
boat over angry seas, guided by its light, many a 


day had it shown me the way across snowfields and 
forests in the land of my birth Stella Polaris, the 
Pole Star! 

This is the way, follow my light and you will be 

Le docteur sera absent pendant un mois. 
Priere s'adresser a Dr. Norstrom. Boule- 
vard Haussmann. 66. 


'TpHE sun had already gone down behind Vasso- 
X jarvi but the day was still bright with flame- 
coloured light slowly deepening into orange and 
ruby. A golden mist descended over the blue moun- 
tains sparkling with patches of purple snow and 
bright yellow silver birches, glistening with the first 

The day's work was over. The men were 
returning to the camp with their lassos swung 
over their shoulders, the women with their huge 
birch bowls of fresh milk. The herd of a thou- 
sand reindeer surrounded by their outposts of 
vigilant dogs stood collected round the camp, safe 
for the night from wolf and lynx. The incessant 
calling of the calves and the crepitating clatter of 
the hoofs gradually died away: all was silent but 
for the occasional barking of a dog, the sharp cry 
of a nightjar or the loud hooting of an eagle owl 
from the far away mountains. I sat in the place 
of honour by the side of Turi himself in the 
smoke-filled tent. Ellekare, his wife, threw a 
slice of reindeer's cheese in the kettle suspended 
over the fire and handed us in turn, the men first 
and then the women and children, our plate of 
thick soup which we ate in silence. What re- 
mained in the kettle was divided amongst the 



dogs off duty who one by one had crept in and 
lain down by the fire. Then we drank each 
in turn our cup of excellent coffee from the 
two cups of the household and they all took their 
short pipes from their leather pouches and began 
to smoke with great gusto. The men pulled off 
their reindeer shoes and spread the tufts of 
carex grass to dry before the fire, Lapps wear no 
socks. Again I admired the perfect shape of their 
small feet with their elastic insteps and strong, 
protruding heels. Some of the women took 
their sleeping babies from their cradles of birch 
bark, filled with soft moss and suspended from the 
tent-poles, to give them the breast. Others ex- 
plored the heads of their half -grown children lying 
flat in their laps. 

" I am sorry you are leaving us so soon," said 
old Turi, " it has been a good stay, I like you." 

Turi spoke good Swedish, he had even many 
years ago been to Lulea to lay the grievances of 
the Lapps against the new settlers before the 
governor of the province who was a staunch de- 
fender of their lost cause and besides an uncle of 
mine. Turi was a mighty man, undisputed ruler 
over his camp of five Kator, containing his five mar- 
ried sons, their wives and children, all hard at work 
from morning till night to attend to his herd of a 
thousand reindeer. 

" We will have to break camp soon ourselves," 
Turi went on, " I am sure we shall have an early 
winter. The snow will soon be too hard under 
the birch-trees for the reindeer to get at the 
moss, we shall have to move down to the pine- 
forest before the month is over. I can hear by 


the way the dogs are barking that they are already 
smelling the wolf. Didn't you say you saw the 
trail of the old bear when you crossed the Sulmo 
gorge yesterday? " he asked a young Lapp who 
had just entered the tent and huddled down by 
the fire. 

Yes, he had seen it and plenty of trails of wolves 
as well. 

I said I was delighted to hear there were still 
bears about, I had been told there were so few of 
them left in this neighbourhood. Turi said I 
was quite right. This was an old bear who had 
been living there for years, he was often seen 
shuffling about in the gorge. Three times they 
had ringed him when he was asleep in the winter 
but he had always managed to escape, he was & 
very cunning old bear. Turi had even had a 
shot at him, he had only shaken his head and 
looked at him with his cunning eyes, he knew 
quite well that no ordinary bullet could kill him. 
Only a silver bullet, cast on a Saturday night near 
the cemetery could kill him, for he was befriended 
by the Uldra. 

" The Uldra? " 

Yes, didn't I know the Uldra, the Little People 
who lived under the earth? When the bear 
went to sleep in the winter the Uldra brought 
Tnm food in the night, of course no animal could 
sleep the whole winter without food, chuckled 
Turi. It was the law of the bear that he should 
not kill a man. If he broke the law the Uldra 
did not bring him any food and he could not go to 
sleep ill the winter. The bear was not cunning 
and treacherous like the wolf. The bear had 


twelve men's strength and one man's cunning. 
The wolf had twelve men's cunning and one man's 
strength. The bear liked clean fighting. If he 
met a man and the man went up to him and 
said: " Come let us have a fight, I am not afraid 
of you," the bear only knocked him down and 
scrambled away without doing him any harm. The 
bear never attacked a woman, all she had to do 
was to show him that she was a woman and not a 

I asked Turi if he had ever seen the Uldra. 

No, he had not, but his wife had seen them 
and the children saw them often. But he had 
heard them moving about under ground. The 
Uldra moved about during night, they slept dur- 
ing the day for they could not see anything when 
it was daylight. Sometimes when it happened 
that the Lapps put up their tents just over a 
place where the Uldra were living, the Uldra gave 
them warning that they must put up their tents 
further away. The Uldra were quite friendly as 
long as you left them alone. If you disturbed 
them they strewed a powder on the moss which 
killed the reindeer by the dozen. It had even 
happened that they carried away a Lapp baby 
and put one of their own babies in the cradle 
instead. Their babies had their faces all covered 
with black hair and long pointed teeth in their 
mouths. Some people said you should beat their 
child with a rod of burning birch branches until 
its mother could not stand its screaming any 
longer and brought you back your own baby and 
took away hers. Other people said you should 
treat their child as your own, the Uldra mother 


would then feel grateful to you and give you back 
your child. As Turi spoke a lively discussion 
which of the two methods was the best was going 
on amongst the women hugging their own babies 
with uneasy eyes. The wolf was the worst enemy 
of the Lapps. He dared not attack a herd of 
reindeer, he stood quite still to let the wind carry 
his smell to them. As soon as the reindeer smelt 
the wolf they all dispersed in fear, then the wolf 
came up and killed them one by one, often a 
dozen in a single night. God had created all the 
animals except the wolf, who was begotten by 
the devil. If a man had the blood of another 
man upon him the devil often turned him into a 
wolf if he had not confessed his sin. The wolf 
could put to sleep the Lapps who were watching 
the herd at night simply by looking at them 
through the darkness with his glowing eyes. You 
could not kill a wolf with an ordinary bullet 
unless you had carried it in your pocket on two 
Sundays in church. The best way was to over- 
take him on your skis on the soft snow and hit 
him with your staff on the top of his nose. He 
would then roll over and die at once. Turi him- 
self had killed dozens of wolves in this way, only 
once had he missed his blow and the wolf had 
bitten him in the leg, he showed me the ugly scar 
as he spoke. Last winter a Lapp had been bitten 
by a wolf just as he was rolling over to die, the 
Lapp had lost so much blood that he had fallen 
asleep in the snow, they had found him the 
following day frozen to death by the side of the 
dead wolf. Then there was the wolverine who 
springs to the throat of the reindeer just by the 


big vein and hangs on for miles till the reindeer 
has lost so much blood that he falls down dead. 
There was also the eagle who carried away in his 
claws the new-born calves if they were left alone 
for a moment by their mothers. Then there was 
the lynx who crept up stealthily as a cat to jump 
at a reindeer who had gone astray from the herd 
and lost its way. 

Turi said he could never understand how the 
Lapps had managed to keep their herds together 
in old times before they had associated them- 
selves with the dog. In former days the dog 
used to hunt the reindeer in company of the wolf. 
But the dog who is the cleverest of all animals 
had soon found out that it would suit him better 
to work with the Lapps instead of with the 
wolves. So the dog offered to enter into the 
service of the Lapps on condition that he should 
be treated as a friend as long as he lived and that 
when he was about to die he should be hanged. 
That is why even to-day the Lapps always 
hanged their dogs when they were too old to work, 
even the new-born puppies who had to be de- 
stroyed for want of food were always hanged. 
The dogs had lost the power of speech when it 
was given to man but they could understand every 
word you said to them. In former days all 
animals could speak and so could the flowers, the 
trees and the stones and all lifeless things who 
were all created by the same God who had created 
man. Therefore man should be kind to all 
animals, and treat all lifeless things as if they 
could still hear and understnd. On the day of 
the Last Judgment the animals would be called 


in first by God to give evidence against the dead 
man. Only after the animals had had their 
say his fellow creatures would be called in as 

I asked Turi if there were any stdLo in the neigh- 
bourhood, I had heard so much about them in my 
childhood, I would give anything to meet one of 
those big ogres. 

" God forbid," said Turi uneasily. " You know 
the river you are to ford to-morrow is still called 
the Stalo river after the old ogre who lived there 
in former days with his witch of a wife. They 
had only one eye between them, so they were 
always quarrelling and fighting who was to have 
the eye to see with. They always ate their own 
children, but they ate many Lapp children as well 
when they had a chance. Stalo said he liked the 
Lapp babies better, his own children tasted too 
much of sulphur. Once when they were driving 
across the lake in a sledge drawn by twelve wolves 
they began to quarrel about their eye as usual 
and Stalo got so angry that he knocked a hole 
in the bottom of the lake and all the fishes got 
out of the lake and not one of them has ever come 
back again. That is why it is still called the Siva 
lake, you will row across it to-morrow and you will 
see for yourself that there is not a single fish 

I asked Turi what happened when the Lapps 
were taken ill and how they could get on without 
seeing the doctor. He said they were very seldom 
ill and specially not during the winter except in 
very severe winters when it happened not so 
seldom that the new-born baby was frozen to 


death. The doctor came to see them twice a 
year by order of the king and Turi thought that 
was about enough. He had to ride on horseback 
across the marshes for two days, it took him 
another day to cross the mountain on foot and 
last time he forded the river he was nearly 
drowned. Luckily there were many healers 
amongst them who could cure most of their ail- 
ments much better than the king's doctor. The 
healers were befriended by the Uldra who had 
taught them their art. Some of these healers 
could take away the pain simply by laying their 
hand on the aching spot. What helped for most 
ailments was bleeding and rubbing. Mercury 
and sulphur was also very good and so was a tea- 
spoonful of snuff in a cup of coffee. Two frogs 
cooked in milk for two hours was very good 
against the cough, a big toad was still better 
when you could lay your hands on one. The 
toads came from the clouds, when the clouds 
were low the toads fell down in hundreds on the 
snow. You could not explain it otherwise for you 
would find them on the most desolate snow-fields 
where there was no trace of any living thing. 
Ten lice boiled in milk with plenty of salt and 
taken on an empty stomach was certain to cure 
jaundice, a very common complaint among the 
Lapps in the spring. Dog bites were cured by 
rubbing the wound with the blood of the same 
dog. To rub the sore place with a little lamb's 
wool would take away the pain at once, for Jesus 
Christ had often spoken of the lamb. When 
somebody was going to die you were always 
warned beforehand by a raven or a crow who 


came and sat down upon the tent pole. You must 
not speak or utter a sound lest you might frighten 
away Life and the dying man might be doomed to 
live between two worlds for a week. If you got 
the smell of a dead person in your nostrils you 
might die yourself. 

I asked Turi if there was any of these healers 
in the neighbourhood; I would like very much to 
speak to him. 

No, the nearest was an old Lapp called Mirko 
who lived on the other side of the mountain, he 
was very old, Turi had known him since he w;as 
a boy. He was a marvellous healer, much be- 
friended by the Uldra. All animals came up to 
him without fear, no animal would ever harm him 
for the animals recognize at once those who are 
befriended by the Uldra. He could take away 
your pain by a mere touch of his hand. You could 
always recognize a healer by the shape of his hand. 
If you put a wing-shot bird in the hand of a healer 
the bird would sit quite still because he understood 
he was a healer. 

I put forth my hand to Turi who had no idea I 
was a doctor. He looked at it attentively with- 
out saying a word, bent the fingers one after 
another most carefully, measured the span be- 
tween the thumb and the first finger and muttered 
something to his wife who in her turn took my 
hand in her brown, little claw of a bird with 
an uneasy glance in her small, almond-shaped 

" Did your mother tell you you were born with 
a caul? Why didn't she give you the breast? 
Wlio gave you the breast? What tongue did 


your nurse speak? Did she ever put the blood of 
a raven in your milk? Did she hang the claw of 
a wolf round your neck? Did she ever make you 
touch the skull of a dead man when you were a 
child? Did you ever see the Uldra? Have you 
ever heard the bells of their white reindeer far 
away in the forest? " 

" He is a healer, he is a healer," said Turi's wife 
with a quick, uneasy glance at my face. 

" He is befriended by the Uldra," they all 
repeated with an almost frightened expression in 
their eyes, 

I felt almost frightened myself as I drew back 
my hand. 

Turi said it was time to go to sleep, the day had 
been long, I was to start at daybreak. We all lay 
down round the smouldering fire. Soon all was 
dark in the smoke-filled tent. All I could see was 
the Pole Star shining down upon me through the 
smoke-hole of the tent. I felt in my sleep the 
warm weight of a dog over my breast and the soft 
touch of his nose in my hand. 

We were all on our legs at daybreak, the whole 
camp was astir to see me off. I distributed 
among my friends my much appreciated little 
presents of tobacco and sweets, and they all 
wished me God-speed. If all went well I was to 
arrive the next day at Forsstugan, the nearest 
human habitation in the wilderness of marshes, 
torrents, lakes and forests which was the home of 
the homeless Lapps. Ristin, Turfs sixteen-year 
old granddaughter, was to be my guide. She 
knew a few words of Swedish, she had been once 
before to Forsstugan, she was to push on from 


there to the nearest church village to join the Lapp 
school once more. 

Ristin walked in front of me in her long white 
reindeer tunic and red woollen cap. Round her 
waist she wore a broad leather belt, embroidered 
with blue and yellow thread and studded with 
buckles and squares of solid silver. Suspended 
from her belt hung her knife, her tobacco pouch 
and her mug. I also noticed a small axe for cut- 
ting wood stuck under the belt. She wore leg- 
gings of soft, white reindeer-skin, fastened to her 
wide skin-breeches. Her small feet were stuck 
in dainty, white reindeer shoes neatly trimmed 
with blue thread. On her back she carried her 
laukos, a knapsack of birch-bark containing her 
various belongings and our provisions. It was 
twice as big as my own rucksack but she did not 
seem to mind it in the least. She moved down on 
the steep slope with the rapid, noiseless step of 
an animal, jumped, swift as a rabbit over a fallen 
tree-trunk or a pool of water. Now and then she 
sprang, agile as a goat, on to a steep rock, looking 
round in all directions. At the foot of the hill 
we came upon a broad stream, I had hardly time 
to wonder how we were to get across before she 
was in the water up to her hips, there was nothing 
for me to do but to follow her in the ice-cold water. 
I soon got warm again as we ascended the- steep 
opposite slope at an amazing speed. She hardly 
ever spoke and it mattered little, for I had the 
greatest difficulty to understand what she said. 
Her Swedish was as bad as my Laplandish. We 
sat down on the soft moss to an excellent meal 
of rye biscuits, fresh butter and cheese, smoked 


reindeer's tongue and delicious cool water from 
the mountain brook in Ristin's mug. We lit our 
pipes and tried again to understand each other's 

" Do you know the name of that bird? " said I. 

" Lahol," smiled Ristin recognizing at once the 
soft, flute-like whistle of the dotterel, who shares 
their solitude with the Lapps and is much beloved 
by them. 

From a willow-bush came the wonderful song 
of the bluethroat 

" Jilow! Jilow!" laughed Ristin. 

The Lapps say that the bluethroat has a bell 
in his throat and that he can sing one hundred 
different songs. High over our heads hung a 
black cross, riveted to the blue sky. It was the 
royal eagle, surveying on motionless wings his deso- 
late kingdom. From the mountain lake ca,me the 
weird call of the loon. 

" Ro, ro, raik," repeated Ristin faithfully. She 
said it meant: " fine weather to-day, fine weather 
to-day! " When the loon said: " Var luk, var 
luk, luk, luk," it meant: " it is going to rain again, 
it is going to rain again, again,'* Ristin informed 

I lay there stretched out full length on the soft 
moss, smoking my pipe and watching Ristin care- 
fully arranging her belongings in her laukos. A 
small blue woollen shawl, an extra pair of neat, 
little reindeer shoes, a pair of beautiful embroid- 
ered red gloves to wear in church, a Bible. Again 
I was struck with the refined shape of her small 
hands, common to all Lapps. I asked her whai 
in the little box cut out of a birch-root \ 


AJS I could not understand a word of her long 
explanation in her mixed tongue of Swedish, 
Finnish and Laplandish I sat up and opened the 
box. It contained what looked like a handful of 
earth. What was she going to do with it? 

Again she tried her best to explain, again I 
failed to understand her. She shook her head 
impatiently, I am sure she thought I was very 
stupid. Suddenly she stretched herself full length 
on the moss and lay quite still and stiff with 
closed eyes. Then she sat up and scratched the 
moss for a handful of earth which she handed me 
with a very serious face. Now I understood what 
was in the birch-root box. It contained a little 
earth from the grave in the wilderness where a 
Lapp had been buried last winter under the snow. 
Bistin was to take it to the priest who was to read 
the Lord's prayer over it and sprinkle it over the 

We shouldered our knapsacks and set off again. 
As we descended the slope, the aspect of the 
landscape changed more and more. We wandered 
over immense tundras covered with carex grass 
and here and there patches of bright yellow 
clusters of cloud-berries which we picked and ate 
as we passed along. The solitary Dwarf -birches, 
the betida nana of the heights, grew into groves 
of silver birches, intermixed with aspen and 
ash and thickets of willow-elder, bird-cherry and 
wild currant. Soon we entered a dense forest 
of stately fir trees. A couple of hours later we 
were walking through a deep gorge walled in 
by steep, moss-covered rocks. The sky over our 
heads was still bright with evening sun but it 


was already almost dark in the ravine. Ristin 
glanced uneasily around her, it was evident that 
she was in a hurry to get out of the gorge before 
night-fall. Suddenly she stood still. I heard the 
crashing of a broken tree-branch and I saw some- 
thing dark looming in front of me at a distance 
of less than fifty yards. 

" Run," whispered Ristin, white in the face, her 
little hand grasping the axe in her belt. 

I was quite willing to run had I been able to 
do so. As it was, I stood still, riveted to the spot 
by a violent cramp in the calf of my legs. I 
could now see him quite well. He was standing 
knee-deep in a thicket of bilberries, a twig full 
of his favourite berries was sticking out of his 
big mouth, we had evidently interrupted him in 
the midst of his supper. He was of uncommonly 
large size, by the shabby look of his coat evidently 
a very old bear, no doubt the same bear Turi had 
told me about. 

" Run," I whispered in my turn to Ristin with 
the gallant intention of behaving like a man and 
covering her retreat. The moral value of this 
intention was however diminished by the fact that 
I was still completely unable to move. Ristin 
did not run. Instead of running away she made 
me witness an unforgettable scene, enough to 
repay a journey from Paris to Lapland. You 
are quite welcome to disbelieve what I am going 
to tell you, it matters little to me. Ristin, one 
hand on her axe, advanced a few steps toward 
the bear. With her other hand raising her tunic, 
she pointed out the wide leather breeches which 
are worn by the Lapp women. The bear dropped 


his bilberry twig, sniffed loudly a couple of times 
and shuffled off among the thick firs. 

" He likes bilberries better than me," said Ristin 
as we set off again as fast as we could. 

Ristin told me that when her mother had brought 
her back from the Lapp school in the spring, they 
had come upon the old bear almost at the same 
place in the midst of the gorge and that he had 
scrambled away as soon as her mother had shown 
him she was a woman. 

Soon we emerged from the gorge and wandered 
through the darkening forest on a carpet of sil- 
very grey moss, soft as velvet and interwoven with 
bunches of Linnaea and Pyrola. It was neither 
light nor dark, it was the wonderful twilight of 
the northern summer night. How Ristin could 
find her way through the trackless forest was in- 
comprehensible to my stupid brain. All of a 
sudden we came upon our friend the brook again, 
I had just time to bend down to kiss his night- 
cool face as he rushed past us. Ristin announced 
it was time for supper. With incredible rapidity 
she chopped some wood with her axe and fit the 
camp fire between two boulders. We ate our 
supper, smoked our pipes and were soon fast 
asleep, our rucksacks under our heads. I was 
awakened by Ristin presenting me her red cap 
full of bilberries, no wonder the old bear liked 
bilberries, I never had a better breakfast. On 
we went. Hallo I there was our friend the brook 
again joyously dancing along over hillocks and 
stones and singing in our ears that we had better 
come along with him down to the mountain lake, 
So we did lest he should lose his way in the gloom. 


Now and then we lost sight of him but we heard 
him singing to himself the whole time. Now and 
then he stopped to wait for us by a steep rock or 
a fallen tree to rush away again faster than ever 
to make up for lost time. A moment later there 
was no longer any fear he might lose his way in 
the gloom for the night had already fled on swift 
goblin feet deeper into the forest. A flame of 
golden light quivered in the tree-tops. 

"Piavi!" said Bistin, "the sun is rising!" 
Through the mist of the valley at our feet a 
mountain lake opened its eyelid. 

I approached the lake with uneasy forebodings 
of another ice-cold bath. Luckily I was mis- 
taken. Bistin stopped short before a small eka, 
a flat-bottomed boat, half-hidden under a fallen 
fir-tree. It belonged to nobody and to every- 
body, it was used by the Lapps on their rare 
visits to the nearest church-village to exchange 
their reindeer skins for coffee, sugar and tobacco, 
the three luxuries of their lives. The water of 
the lake was cobalt blue, even more beautiful than 
the sapphire blue of the Blue Grotto in Capri. 
It was so transparent that I thought I almost 
could see the hole the terrible Stalo had knocked 
in its bottom. Half across the lake we met two 
stately travellers swimming side by side, their 
superb antlers high out of the water. Luckily 
they mistook me for a Lapp so we could come 
up so close to them that I could see their 
soft beautiful eyes looking fearlessly at us. There 
is something very strange about the eyes of 
the elk as about those of the reindeer, they 


always seem to be looking straight at your own 
eyes at whatever angle you see them. We climbed 
rapidly the steep opposite shore and wandered 
once more over an immense marshy plain with 
nothing to guide us but the sun. My attempts 
to explain to Bistin the use of my pocket com- 
pass had met with so little success that I had given 
up looking at it myself, putting my trust in 
Eistin's instinct of a half -tame animal. It was 
evident that she was in a great hurry, ere long I 
had the impression that she was not sure of our 
way. Now and then she set off as fast as she 
could in one direction, stopped short to sniff the 
wind with quivering nostrils, then she darted off 
in another direction to repeat the same manoeuvre. 
Now and then she bent down to smell the ground 
like a dog. 

<e Rog" she said suddenly pointing to a low 
cloud moving towards us with extraordinary rapid- 
ity across the marshes. 

Fog indeed! In a minute we were enveloped in 
a thick mist as impenetrable as a November fog 
in London. We had to hold each other by the 
hand not to lose sight of one another. We 
struggled on for another hour or two, knee deep 
in the ice-cold water. At last Ristin said she had 
lost our direction, we must wait till the fog was 
over. How long might it last? 

She did not know, perhaps a day and a night, 
perhaps an hour, it aU depended upon the wind. 
It was one of the worst experiences I have ever 
gone through. I knew quite well that with our 
scanty equipment the encounter with a fog on the 
immense swamps was far more dangerous than 

FOG 137 

the encounter with a bear in the forest. I 
also knew that there was nothing to do but to 
wait where we were. We sat for hours on our 
knapsacks, the fog sticking to our skin as a sheet 
of ice-cold water. My misery was complete when 
I was going to light my pipe and found my 
waistcoat pocket full of water. While I was still 
staring dejectedly at my soaked match box, 
Ristin had already struck fire with her tinder- 
box and lit her pipe. Another defeat for civili- 
zation was when I wanted to put on a pair of 
dry socks and discovered that my waterproof 
knapsack of best London make was soaked through 
and through and that all Ristin's belongings in 
her home-made laukos of birch-bark were dry as 
hay. We were just waiting for the water to boil 
for a well-needed cup of coffee when a sudden 
gush of wind blew out the flame of my little 
spirit lamp. Ristin was off in an instant in the 
direction of the wind and back again to order me 
to put on my rucksack at once. In less than a 
minute a strong steady wind was blowing straight 
in our faces and the curtain of mist lifted 
rapidly over our heads. Deep below in the val- 
ley at our very feet we saw a huge river glisten- 
ing in the sun like a sword. Along the opposite 
shore stretched out a dark pine forest as far as 
the eye could see. Ristin lifted her hand and 
pointed to a thin column of smoke rising over the 

" Forsstugan," said Ristin. 

She sprang down the slope and without a mo- 
ment's hesitation she plunged into the river up 
to her shoulders and I after her. Soon we lost 


our footing and swam across the river as the elks 
had swum across the forest lake. After half-an- 
hour's walk through the forest on the other side 
of the river we reached a clearing evidently made 
by the hand of man. A huge Lapland dog came 
rushing towards us full-speed harking fiercely. 
After much sniffing at us he was overjoyed to see 
us and proceeded to lead the way with a friendly 

wagging of his tail. 

# # # 

In front of his red painted house stood Lars 
Anders of Forsstugan in his long sheepskin coat, 
six feet six in his wooden shoes. 

"Good day in the forest!" said Lars Anders. 
"Where dost thou come from? Why didst thou 
not let the Lapp child swim alone across the river 
to fetch my boat? Put another log on the fire, 
Kerstin," he called out to his wife inside the house. 
" He has swum the river with a Lapp child, they 
must dry their clothes.'* 

Ristin and I sat down on the low bench before 
the fire. 

" He is wet as an otter," said Mother Kerstin 
helping me to pull off my stockings, my knicker- 
bockers, my sweater and my flannel shirt from my 
dripping body and hanging them to dry on the 
rope across the ceiling. Ristin had already taken 
off her reindeer coat, her leggings, her breeches 
and her woollen vest, shirt she had none. There 
we sat, side by side on the wooden bench before 
the blazing fire, stark naked as our Creator had 
made us. The two old folk thought it was all right 
so, and so it was. 
An hour later I was inspecting my new quarters 


in Uncle Lars' long black Sunday coat of home- 
spun cloth and wqoden shoes while Bistin sat by 
the oven in the kitchen where Mother Kerstin was 
hard at work baking the bread. The stranger 
who had come there yesterday with a Finn Lapp 
had eaten up all the bread in the house. Their 
son was away cutting timber on the other side 
of the lake, I was to sleep in his little room over 
the cow-stable. They hoped I would not mind 
the smell of the cows. Not in the least, I rather 
liked it. Uncle Lars said he was going to the 
herbre to fetch a sheepskin to put over my bed, 
he was sure I would need it for the nights were 
already cold. The herbre stood on four poles of 
stout timber, a man's height over the ground, as 
a protection against four-footed visitors and the 
deep snow of the winter. The store-room was full 
of clothes and furs neatly hung on the antlers 
nailed to the walls. Uncle Lars' fur coat of wolf's 
skin, his wife's winter furs, half-a-dozen wolf- 
skins. On the floor lay a sledge rug of splendid 
bear skin. On another peg hung Mother Ker- 
stin's wedding dress, her gaily coloured silk bodice 
beautifully embroidered with silver thread, her 
long green woollen skirt, her tippet of squirrel 
skin, her bonnet trimmed with old lace, her red 
leather belt with buckles of solid silver. As we 
climbed down the ladder of the herbre I told 
Uncle Lars he had forgotten to lock the door. He 
said it did not matter, wolves, foxes and weasels 
would not carry off their clothes, there were no 
eatables in the herbre. After a stroll in the forest 
I sat down under the big fir by the kitchen door 
to a splendid supper, Lapland trout, the best in 


the world, home-made bread just out of the oven, 
fresh cheese and home-brewed ale. I wanted 
Ristin to share my supper, it was evidently against 
etiquette, she was to have her supper in the 
kitchen with the grandchildren. The two old folk 
were sitting by my side watching me while I was 

" Hast thou seen the King? " 
No, I had not, I had not come by Stockholm, 
I had come straight from another land, from an- 
other town many times bigger than Stockholm. 

Uncle Lars did not know there was a town 
bigger than Stockholm. 

I told Mother Kerstin how much I had admired 
her beautiful wedding dress. She smiled and said 
her mother had worn it at her own wedding, God 
knows how many years ago. 

" But surely you don't leave the herbre open 
at night? " I asked. 

"Why not?" said Uncle Lars. "There is 
nothing to eat in the herbre, I told you the wolves 
and foxes are not likely to carry away our 

"But somebody else might carry them away, 
the herbre stands all by itself in the wood, hun- 
dreds of yards away from your house. That 
bear-skin rug alone is worth a lot of money, any 
antiquarian in Stockholm would be glad to pay 
several hundred riksdaler for your wife's wedding 

The two old folk looked at me with evident sur- 

" But didn't you hear me tell you that I had 
shot that bear myself and all the wolves as well? 


Don't you understand that it is my wife's wed- 
ding dress and that she got it from her own 
mother? Don't you understand it all belongs to 
us as long as we are alive, and when we die, it 
goes to our son? Who would carry it away ? What 
do you mean? " 

Uncle Lars and Mother Kerstin looked at me, 
they seemed almost vexed at my question. Sud- 
denly Lars Anders scratched his head with a cun- 
ning expression in his old eyes. 

" Now I understand what he means," he 
chuckled to his wife, " he means those people they 
caU thieves!" 

I asked Lars Anders about the Siva lake, 
whether it was true what Turi had told me that 
the big Stalo had t knocked a hole in its bottom 
and made all the fishes escape. Yes, it was quite 
true, there w : as not a single fish in the lake while 
all the other mountain lakes were full of them, 
but if the mischief had been done by a Stalo he 
could not say. The Lapps were superstitious 
and ignorant. They were not even Christians, 
nobody knew where they came from, they spoke 
a language unlike any other tongue in the whole 

Were there any Giants or Trolls about on this 
side of the river? 

" There certainly were in former days," said 
Uncle Lars. When he was a boy he had heard a 
lot about the big Troll who lived in the mountain 
over there. The Troll was very rich, he had hun- 
dreds of ugly dwarfs who kept watch over his 
gold under the mountain and thousands of cattle, 
all snow-white with bells of silver round their 


necks. Now since the King had begun to blast 
the rocks for iron ore and started building a rail- 
way he had not heard anything more about the 
Troll. There was of course still the Skogsrd, the 
forest witch, who was always trying to allure 
people deeper into the woods where they would 
miss their way. Sometimes she called with the 
voice of a bird, sometimes with the soft voice of 
a woman. Many people said she was a real woman 
very wicked and very beautiful. If you met her 
in the forest, you must run away at once, if you 
turned your head to look at her a single time you 
were lost. You must never sit down under a 
tree in the forest when the moon is full. She 
would then come and sit down by your side and 
throw her arms round you like a woman does 
when she wants a man to love her. All she 
wanted to do was to suck the blood out of your 

" Had she very large, dark eyes? " I asked un- 

Lars Anders did not know, he had never seen 
her but his wif e's brother had met her one moon- 
lit night in the woods. He had lost his sleep, he 
had never been right in the head ever since. 
Were there any Goblins in this neighborhood? 
Yes, there were plenty of Little People sneak- 
ing about in the dusk. There was one little goblin 
living in the cow-stable, the grandchildren had 
often seen him. He was quite harmless as long 
as he was left in peace and had his bowl of por- 
ridge put out for him in its usual corner. It 
would not do to scoff at him. Once a railway en- 
gineer who was to build the bridge over the river 


had spent the night in the Forsstugan. He got 
drunk and spat in the bowl of porridge and said 
he would be damned if there was any such thing 
as a goblin. When he drove back in the evening 
across the frozen lake his horse slipped and fell 
on the ice and was torn to pieces by a pack of 
wolves. He was found in the morning by some 
people returning from church, sitting in the sledge, 
frozen to death. He had shot two of the wolves 
with his gun and had it not been for the gun they 
would have eaten him as well. 

How far was it from Forsstugan to the nearest 

" Eight hours' ride across the forest on a good 

" I heard the sound of bells when I was strolling 
about in the woods an hour ago, there must be 
plenty of cattle round here." 

Lars Anders spat the snuff from his mouth and 
said abruptly that I was mistaken, there were no 
cattle in the woods, nearer than a hundred miles, 
his own four cows were in the stable. 

I repeated to Lars Anders that I was sure I 
had heard the bells far away in the forest, I had 
even noticed how beautifully they sounded as if 
of silver. 

Lars Anders and Mother Kerstin glanced un- 
easily at each other but nobody spoke. I bade 
them good-night and went to my room over the 
cow-stable. The forest stood silent and dark out- 
side the window. I lit the tallow candle on the 
table and lay down on the sheep-skin tired and 
sleepy after my long wanderings. I listened for a 
while to the munching of the cows in their sleep. 


I thought I heard the hooting of an owl far away 
in the woods. I looked at the tallow candle burn- 
ing dimly on the table, it did my eyes good to 
look at it, I had never seen a tallow candle since 
I was a child in my old home. I thought I 
saw through my closing eyelids a little boy plod- 
ding in the deep snow on a dark winter morning 
on his way to school with a bundle of books in a 
strap on his back and just such a tallow candle 
in his hand. For each boy had to bring his own 
candle to be lit on his own desk in the schoolroom. 
Some boys brought a thick candle, some brought 
a thin candle, as thin as the one now burning on 
the table. I was a rich boy, on my desk burnt a 
thick candle. On the desk next to mine burnt 
the thinnest candle in the whole class, for the 
mother of the boy who sat next to me was very 
poor. But I was plucked in my exam at Christ- 
mas and he passed his exam at the top of us all 
for he had more light in his brain. 

I thought I heard something rattle on the table. 
I must have slept for a while, for the tallow candle 
was just flickering out. But I could see quite 
distinctly a little man as big as the palm of my 
hand sitting cross-legged on the table carefully 
pulling at my watch-chain and bending his grey 
old head on one side to listen to the ticking 
of my repeater. He was so interested that he 
did not notice that I was sitting up in my bed 
and looking at him. Suddenly he caught sight 
of me, dropped the watch-chain, glided down 
the leg of the table, sailor fashion, and sprang 
towards the door as fast as his tiny legs could 
carry him. 


<c Don't be afraid, little goblin/ 5 said I, " it is 
only me. Don't run away, and I will show you 
what is inside that gold box you were so inter- 
ested in. It can ring a bell as they do in church 
on Sundays." 

He stopped short and looked at me with his 
small, kind eyes. 

"I cannot make it out," said the goblin, "I 
thought I smelt a child in this room or I would 
never have come in, and you look like a a big man. 
Well, I never . . ." he exclaimed hoisting him- 
self up on the chair by the bed. " Well, I never 
heard of such good luck as to find you here in this 
far-away place. You are just the same child as 
when I saw you last time in the nursery of your 
old home or you could never have seen me to- 
night sitting on the table. Don't you recognize 
me? It was I who came to your nursery every 
night when the whole house was asleep to put 
things straight for you and smooth away all your 
worries of the day. It was to me you always 
brought a slice of your birthday cake and all those 
walnuts, raisins and sweets from the Christmas 
tree and you never forgot to bring me my bowl 
of porridge. Why did you ever leave your old 
home in the midst of the big forest? You were 
always smiling then, why do you look so sad now? " 

" Because I have no rest in my head, I cannot 
stay anywhere, I cannot forget, I cannot sleep." 

" That is like your father. How often have I 
not watched him wandering up and down in his 
room the whole night! " 

" Tell me something about my father, I remem- 
ber so little of him.'* 


" Your father was a strange man, sombre and 
silent. He was kind to all the poor and to all 
animals, but he seemed often hard to those around 
him. He used to flog you a lot but it is true 
you were a difficult child. You obeyed nobody, 
you did not seem to care for either your father 
or your mother or your sister or your brother or 
for anybody. Yes, I think you cared for your 
nurse, don't you remember her, Lena? Nobody 
else liked her, everybody was afraid of her. She 
had been taken on as your nurse for sheer ne- 
cessity as your mother could not give you the 
breast. Nobody* knew where she came from. Her 
skin was dark like the skin of the Lapp child 
who brought you here yesterdajf, but she was very 
tall. She used to sing to you in an unknown 
tongue while she gave you the breast, she kept on 
giving you the breast till you were two years old. 
Nobody, not even your mother, dared to go 
near her, she growled like an angry she-wolf if 
anybody wanted to take you from her arms. At 
last she was sent away but she returned in the 
night and tried to steal you. Your mother got 
so frightened that she had to take her back. She 
brought you all sorts of animals to play with, bats, 
hedge-hogs, squirrels, rats, snakes, owls and 
ravens. I once saw her with my own eyes cut- 
ting the throat of a raven and putting some drops 
of his blood in your milk. One day when you 
were four years old the sheriff came with two 
country policemen and carried her away, hand- 
cuffed. I heard it had something to do with her 
own child. The whole house was delighted, but 
you were delirious for several days. Most of 


your troubles had to do with your animals. 
Your room was full of all sorts of animals, you 
even slept with them in your bed* Don't you 
remember how mercilessly you were flogged for 
lying on eggs? Every bird's egg you could get 
hold of you used to try to hatch out in your 
bed. Of course a small child cannot keep awake, 
every morning your bed was all in a mess with 
smashed eggs and every morning you were flogged 
for it but nothing helped. Don't you remember 
the evening your parents came home late from a 
house-party and found your sister in her night- 
gown sitting on the table under an umbrella 
screaming with terror? All your animals had 
escaped from your room, a bat had caught her 
claw in your sister's hair, all your snakes, toads 
and rats were crawling about on the floor and 
in your own bed they found a whole litter of mice. 
Your father gave you a tremendous thrashing, 
you flew at him and bit your own father in the 
hand. The next day you stole out of the house 
at daybreak after breaking into the pantry in the 
night to fill your knapsack with what eatables you 
could lay hands on, and smashing your sister's 
money-box and stealing all her savings you never 
had any savings of your own. The whole day 
and the whole night all the servants were hunt- 
ing for you in vain. At last your father who 
had galloped off to the village to speak to the 
police found you fast asleep in the snow by the 
roadside, your dog had barked as he rode past. 
I overheard your father's hunter telling the other 
horses in the stable how your father lifted you 
up in the saddle without saying a word and rode 


home with you and locked you up in a dark room 
on bread and water for two days and nights. On 
the third day you were taken to your father's 
room, he asked you why you had stolen out 
of the house? You said you were misunderstood 
by everybody in the house and wanted to emi- 
grate to America. He asked you if you were 
sorry you had bitten him in the hand, you said 
no. The next day you were sent to school in 
the town and were only allowed to return home 
for the Christmas holidays. On Christmas day 
you all drove to church for the morning service 
at four o'clock. A whole pack of wolves gal- 
loped behind the sledge as you drove across the 
frozen lake, the winter was very severe and 
the wolves were very hungry. The church was 
all ablaze with light with two big Christmas trees 
before the High Altar. The whole congregation 
stood up to sing "Hail, happy morn." When 
they had finished the hymn you told your father 
you were sorry you had bitten him in the hand 
and he patted you on the head. On the way back 
across the lake you tried to jump from the sledge, 
you said you wanted to follow the trails of the 
wolves to see where they had gone. In the after- 
noon you were missing again, everybody was 
searching for you in vain the whole night. The 
gamekeeper found you in the morning in the 
forest asleep under a big fir. There were trails 
of wolves all round the tree, the gamekeeper said 
it was a miracle you had not been eaten by the 
wolves. But the worst of all happened during 
your summer holidays when the housemaid found 
a human skull under your bed, a skull with a tuft 


of red hair still hanging on to the back of the head. 
The whole house was in commotion. Your mother 
fainted and your father gave you the severest 
thrashing you had ever had so far and you were 
again locked up in a dark room on water and 
'bread. It was discovered that the night before 
you had ridden on your pony to the village 
churchyard, had broken into the charnel house 
and stolen the skull from a heap of bones 
deposited in the cellar. The parson who had 
been the headmaster of a boy's school told your 
father that it was an unheard-of thing that a boy 
of ten should have committed such an atrocious 
sin against God and man. Your mother, who 
was a very pious woman, never got over it. She 
seemed almost afraid of you and she was not the 
only one. She said she could not understand 
that she could have given birth to such a monster. 
Your father said that surely you had not been 
begotten by him but by the devil himself. The 
old housekeeper said it was all the fault of your 
nurse who had bewitched you by putting something 
in your milk and had hung the claw of a wolf 
round your neck." 

" But is all this really true what you have told 
me about my childhood? I must have been a 
strange child indeed I " 

" What I have told you is true, every word of 
it/* answered the goblin. "What you may tell 
to others I am not responsible for. You always 
seem to mix up reality with dreams as all children 

" But I am not a child, I shall be twenty-seven 
next month." 


" Of course you are a big child or you could not 
have seen me, only children can see us goblins." 

" And how old are you, little man? " 

" Six hundred years. I happen to know because 
I was born the same year as the old fir-tree outside 
your nursery window where the big owl had its 
nest. Your father always said it was the oldest 
tree in the whole forest. Don't you remember the 
big owl, don't you remember how it used to sit 
and blink at you through the window with its round 

" Are you married? " 

"No. I am single," said the goblin. "And 

" Not so far, but . . ." 

" Don't 1 My father always told us that mar- 
riage was a very risky undertaking, and that it 
was a wise saying that one could not be too careful 
in the choice of one's mother-in-law." 

" Six hundred years old! Really? You do not 
look it! I would never have believed it by the 
way you slid down the leg of the table and ran 
across the floor when you caught sight of me sitting 
up in bed." 

"My legs are all right, thank you, only my 
eyes are getting somewhat tired, I can hardly see 
anything in the daytime. I have also strange noises 
in my ears ever since you big people began that 
dreadful blasting in the mountains around us. 
Some goblins say you want to rob the Trolls of 
their gold and iron, others say it is to make a hole 
for that huge, yellow snake with the two black 
stripes on his back who is wriggling his way over 
fields and forests and across the rivers, his mouth 


foaming with smoke and fire. We are all afraid 
of him, all the animals in the forests and fields, 
all the birds in the sky, all the fishes in rivers and 
lakes, even the Trolls under the mountains are 
flying north in terror of his approach. What will 
become of us poor goblins? What will become 
of all the children when we are no more in the 
nurseries to put them to sleep with our fairy tales 
and keep watch over their dreams? Who will look 
after the horses in the stable, who will see to it 
that they do not fall on the slippery ice and break 
their legs? Who will wake the cows and help 
them to look after their new-born calves? I tell 
you times are hard, there is something wrong 
with your world, there is no peace anywhere. AIT 
this incessant rattle and noise is getting on my 
nerves. I dare not stay with you any longer. The 
owls are already getting sleepy, all the creeping 
things in the forest are going to bed, the squirrels 
are already crunching their fir-cones, the cock will 
soon crow, the terrible blasting across the lake 
will soon begin again. I tell you I cannot stand 
it any longer. It is my last night here, I have 
to leave you. I have to work my way up to Keb- 
nekajse before the sun rises." 

" Kebnekajse! Kebnekajse is hundreds of miles 
further north, how on earth are you going to get 
there with your short little legs? " 

" I dare say a crane or a wild goose will give 
me a lift, they are all collecting there now for 
the long flight to the land where there is no winter. 
If it comes to the worst I shall ride part of the 
way on the back of a bear or a wolf, they are all 
friends to us goblins. I must go." 


"Don't go away, stay with me a little longer 
and I will show you what is inside that gold box 
you were so interested in." 

" What do you keep in the gold box? Is it an 
animal? I thought I heard the beating of its heart 
inside the box." 

"It is the beating of the heart of Time you 

"What is Time? " asked the goblin. 
"I cannot tell you, nor can anybody else tell 
you what Time means. They say it is made up 
of three different things, the past, the present and 
the future." 

" Do you always carry it about with you in that 
gold box? " 

"Yes, it never rests, it never sleeps, it never 
ceases to repeat the same word in my ears." 
"Do you understand what it says? " 
" Alas! only too well. It tells me every second, 
every minute, every hour of the day and of the 
night that I am getting older, and that I am going 
to die. Tell me, little man, before you go, are 
you afraid of Death?" 
"Afraid of what?" 

"Afraid of the day when the beating of your 
heart will cease, the cogs and wheels of the whole 
machinery fall to pieces, your thoughts stand still, 
your life flicker out like the light of that dim 
tallow candle on the table." 

" Who has put all that nonsense in your head? 
Don't listen to the voice inside the gold box with 
its silly past, present and future, don't you under- 
stand that it all means the same thing! Don't you 
understand that somebody is making fun of you 


inside that gold box! If I were you, I would 
throw your uncanny gold box in the river and 
drown the evil spirit locked up in it. Don't be- 
lieve a word of what it tells you, it is nothing but 
lies! You will always remain a child, you will 
never grow old, you will never die. You just lie 
down and get to sleep for a while! The sun will 
soon rise again over the fir-tops, the new day will 
soon look in through the window, you will soon see 
much clearer than you ever saw by the light of 
that tallow candle. 

" I must be off. Good-bye to you, dreamer, 
and well met!" 

"Wen met, little goblin!" 

He glided down from the chair by my bed and 
clattered away towards the door in his little wooden 
shoes. As he was fumbling in his pocket for his 
latch-key he suddenly burst into such a roar of 
laughter that he had to hold his stomach with his 
two hands. 

"Death!" he chuckled. "Well, I never! It 
beats anything I have ever heard before! What 
shortsighted fools are they not, these big mon- 
keys, compared with us small goblins. Death! 
By Robin Goodfellow, I never heard such non- 
sense! " 

When I woke and looked out through the win- 
dow the ground was white with fresh snow. High 
overhead I heard the beating of wings and the call 
of a flock of wild geese. God speed, little goblin! 

I sat down to my breakfast, a bowl of porridge, 
milk fresh from the cow and a cup of excellent 
coffee. Uncle Lars told me he had been up twice 


in the night, the Lapland dog had been growling 
uneasily the whole time as if he saw or heard 
something. He himself had thought he saw the 
dark form of what might have been a wolf sneak- 
ing about outside the house. Once he had thought 
he heard the sound of voices from the cow-stable, 
he was quite relieved when he heard it was me 
talking in my sleep. The hens had been cackling 
and restless the whole night. 

" Do you see that? " said Uncle Lars pointing 
to a trail in the fresh snow leading up to my win- 
dow. "There must have been at least three of 
them. I have lived here for over thirty years 
and I have never seen the trail of a wolf so near 
the house. Do you see that?" he said pointing 
to another trail in the snow as big as the foot- 
step of a man. " I thought I was dreaming when 
I saw it first. As sure as my name is Lars Anders 
the bear has been here to-night and this is the 
trail of her cub. It is ten years since I shot a 
bear in this forest. Do you hear that chatter- 
ing in the big fir by the cow-stable? There must 
be a couple of dozens of them, I never saw so 
many squirrels in one tree in my whole life. Did 
you hear the hooting of the owl in the forest and 
the calling of the loon from the lake the whole 
night? Did you hear the nightjar spinning round 
the house at daybreak? I cannot make it out, 
as a rule the whole forest is silent as a grave after 
dark. Why have all these animals come here this 
night? Neither Kerstin nor I have slept a wink. 
Kerstin thinks it is the Lapp child who has be- 
witched the house, but she says she had been 
baptized in Rukne last summer. But one never 

* THE TIMES ' 15d 

knows with these Lapps, they are all full of witch- 
craft and devil's tricks. Anyhow I sent her off 
at daybreak, she is swift on foot, she will he at 
the Lapp school in Rukne before sunset. When 
are you going? " 

I said I was in no hurry, I would like to re- 
main a couple of days, I liked the Forsstugan very 

Uncle Lars said his son was to return from his 
timber-cutting in the evening, there would be no 
room for me to sleep in. I said I did not mind 
sleeping in the barn, I liked the smell of hay. 
Neither Uncle Lars nor Mother Kerstin seemed 
to cherish the. idea. I could not help feeling as 
if they wanted to get rid of me, they hardly spoke 
a word to me, they almost seemed afraid of me. 

I asked Uncle Lars about the stranger who had 
come to Forsstugan two days ago and who had 
eaten all the bread. He could not speak a word 
of Swedish, said Lars Anders, the Finn Lapp who 
was carrying his fishing tackle and rods said they 
had lost their way. They were half dead of hunger 
when they came, they had eaten up everything in. 
the house. Uncle Lars showed me the coin he had 
insisted on giving to the grandchildren, was it 
possible that it was real gold? 

It was an English sovereign. On the floor by 
the window lay a * Times * addressed to Sir John 
Scott. I opened it and read in huge letters: 



One hour later Pelle. Uncle Lars' grandson, 


stood in front of the house with the shaggy little 
Norwegian pony. Uncle Lars was dumbfounded 
when I wanted to pay him at least for the pro- 
visions in my rucksack, he said he had never heard 
such a thing. He said I had nothing to worry 
about, Pelle knew the direction quite well. It was 
quite an easy and comfortable journey this time 
of the year. Eight hours' ride through the forest 
to Rukne, three hours downstream in Liss 
Jocum's boat, six hours on foot across the moun- 
tain to the church village, two hours across the 
lake to Losso Jarvi, from there eight hours' easy 
drive to the new railway station. No passenger 
trains as yet but the engineer would be sure to 
let me stand on the locomotive for two hundred 
miles till I could catch the goods' train. 

Uncle Lars was quite right, it was an easy and 
comfortable journey, at least it seemed so to me 
then. What would it have seemed to me today? 
Equally easy and comfortable was the journey 
across Central Europe in the wretched trains of 
those days with hardly any sleep. Lapland to 
Naples, look at the map I 


JF anybody would care to know about my stay 
in Naples, he must look it up in * Letters from 
a Mourning City ' if he can get hold of a copy, 
which is not probable, for the little book is long 
ago out of print and forgotten, I have just been 
reading myself with considerable interest these 
* Letters from Naples * as they were called in the 
Swedish original. I could not write such a book 
to-day to save my life. There is plenty of boyish 
boisterousness in these letters, there is also plenty 
of self -consciousness, not to say conceit. I was 
evidently rather pleased with myself for having 
rushed from Lapland to Naples at the moment 
when everybody else had left it. There is a good 
deal of swaggering how I went about night and 
day in the infected poor quarters, covered with 
lice, feeding on rotten fruit, sleeping in a 
filthy locanda. AH this is quite true, I have noth- 
ing to retract, my description of Naples in 
cholera times is exact as I saw it with the eyes of 
an enthusiast. 

But the description of myself is far less exact. 
I had the cheek to put in writing that I was not 
afraid of the cholera, not afraid of Death. I told 
a lie. I was horribly afraid of both from the first 
tin the last. I described in the first letter how, 



half -faint from the stench of carbolic acid in the 
empty train I stepped out on the deserted Piazza 
late in the evening, how I passed in the streets 
long convoys of carts and omnibuses filled with 
corpses on the way to the cholera cemetery, how 
I spent the whole night amongst the dying in the 
wretched fondaci of the slums. But there is no 
description of how a couple of hours after my 
arrival I was back once more in the station eagerly 
inquiring for the first train for Rome, for Calabria, 
for the Abruzzi, for anywhere, the further the 
better, only to get out of this hell. Had there 
been a train there would have been no ' Letters 
from a Mourning City/ As it was, there was 
no train till noon the next day, the communications 
with the infected city having been almost cut off. 
There was nothing to do but to have a swim at 
Santa Lucia at sunrise and to return to the slums 
with a cool head but still trembling with fear. 
In the afternoon my offer to serve on the staff of 
the cholera hospital of Santa Maddalena was ac- 
cepted. Two days later I vanished from the hos- 
pital having discovered that the right place for 
me was not among the dying in the hospital, but 
among the dying in the slums. 

How much easier it would have been for them 
and for me, thought I, if only their agony was 
not so long, so terrible! There they were lying 
for hours, for days in stadium algidum, cold as 
corpses, with wide-open eyes and wide-open 
mouths, to all appearances dead and yet still alive. 
Did they feel anything, did they understand any- 
thing? So much the better for the few who could 
still swallow the tea-spoonful of laudanum one of 

APRATT) 159 

the volunteers of the Croce Bianca rushed in 
to pour into their mouths. It might at least finish 
them off before the soldiers and the half-drunk 
heccamorti came at night to throw them all in 
a heap in the immense pit on the Camposanto 
dei Colerosi. How many were thrown there alive? 
Hundreds, I should say. They all looked exactly 
alike, I myself was often unable to say if they 
were dead or alive. There was no time to lose, 
there were dozens of them in every slum, the or- 
ders were strict, they all had to buried in the 

As the epidemic approached its climax I had 
no longer any reason for complaining that their 
agony was so long. Soon they began to fall down 
in the streets as if struck by lightning, to be 
picked up by the police and driven to the cholera 
hospital to die there a few hours later. The cabby 
who drove me in the morning in tearing spirits 
to the convict prison of Granatello, near Portici 
and was to take me back to Naples, was lying 
dead in his cab when I came to look for him in 
the evening. Nobody wanted to have anything 
to do with him in Portici, nobody wanted to help 
me to get him out of the cab. I had to climb 
on to the box and drive him back to Naples my- 
self. Nobody wanted to have anything to do with 
him there either, it ended by my having to drive 
Trim to the cholera cemetery before I could get 
rid of him. 

Often when I returned in the evening to the 
locanda, I was so tired that I threw myself on 
the bed as I was, without undressing, without even 
washing myself. What was the good of washing 


in this filthy water, what was the good of disin- 
fecting myself when everybody and everything 
around me was infected, the food I ate, the water 
I drank, the bed I slept in, the very air I breathed! 
Often I was too frightened to go to bed, too 
frightened to be alone. I had to rush out into 
the street again, to spend the remainder of the 
night in one of the churches. Santa Maria del 
Carmine was my favourite night-quarter, the best 
sleep I have ever had I have had on a bench in 
the left-side aisle of that old church. There were 
plenty of churches to sleep in when I dared not 
go home. All the hundreds of churches and 
chapels of Naples were open the whole night, 
ablaze with votive candles and thronged with 
people. All their hundreds of Madonnas and 
saints were hard at work night and day to visit 
the dying in their respective quarters. Woe to 
them if they ventured to appear in the quarter 
of one of their rivals! Even the venerable Ma- 
donna della Colera who had saved the city in the 
terrible epidemic of 1834, had been hissed a few 
days before at Bianchi Nuovi. 

But it was not only of the cholera I was afraid. 
I was also terrified from first to last of the rats. 
They seemed just as much at home in the fondaci, 
bassi and sotterranei of the slums as the wretched 
human beings who lived and died there. To be 
just, they were on the whole inoffensive and well- 
behaved rats, at least with the living, attending 
to their business of scavengers, handed over to 
them alone since the time of the Romans, the only 
members of the community who were sure to get 
their fill. They were as tame as cats and almost 


as big. Once I came upon an old woman, noth- 
ing but skin and bones, almost naked, lying on a 
rotten straw-mattress in a semi-dark sort of grotto. 
I was told she was the * vavama/ the grandmother. 
She was paralysed and totally blind, she had been 
lying there for years. On the filthy floor of the 
cave sat on their haunches half-a-dozen enormous 
rats in a circle round their unmentionable morn- 
ing meal. They looked quite placidly at me, 
without moving an inch. The old woman stretched 
out her skeleton arm and screamed in a hoarse 
voice: "pane! panel" 

But when the sanitary commission started on 
its vain attempt to disinfect the sewers, the situ- 
ation changed, my fear grew into terror. Mil- 
lions of rats who had been living unmolested in 
the sewers since the time of the Romans, invaded 
the lower part of the town. Intoxicated by the 
sulphur fumes and the carbolic acid, they rushed 
about the slums like mad dogs. They did not 
look like any rats I had ever seen before, they 
were quite bald with extraordinarily long red tails, 
fierce blood-shot eyes and pointed black teeth as 
long as the teeth of a ferret. If you hit them with 
your stick, they would turn round and hang on 
to the stick like a bull-dog. Never in my life I 
have been so afraid of any animal as I was of 
these mad rats, for I am sure they were mad. The 
whole Basso Porto quarter was in terror. Over 
one hundred severely bitten men, women and chil- 
dren were taken to the Pellegrini hospital the very 
first day of the invasion. Several small children 
were literally eaten up. I shall never forget a 
night in a f ondaco in Vicolo della Duchessa. The 


room, the cave is the better word, was almost 
dark, only lit up by the little oil-lamp before the 
Madonna. The father had been dead for two 
days but the body was still lying there under a 
heap of rags, the family having succeeded in hiding 
him from the police in search of the dead to be 
taken to the cemetery, a common practice in the 
slums. I was sitting on the floor by the side of 
the daughter, beating off the rats with my stick. 
She was already quite cold, she was still conscious. 
I could hear the whole time the rats crunching at 
the body of the father. At last it made me so 
nervous that I had to put him upright in the cor- 
ner like a grandfather clock. Soon the rats began 
again eating ravenously his feet and legs. I could 
not stand it any longer. Faint with fear I rushed 

The Farmacia di San Gennaro was also a 
favourite haunt of mine when I was afraid to be 
alone. It was open night and day. Don Bartolo 
was always on his legs concocting his various 
mixtures and miraculous remedies from his row 
of seventeenth-century Faenza jars with Latin 
inscriptions of drugs, mostly unknown to me. A 
couple of large glass bottles with snakes and a 
foetus in alcohol adorned the side-board. By the 
shrine of San Gennaro, the patron saint of Naples, 
burned the sacred lamp and among the cobwebs in 
the ceiling hung an embalmed cat with two heads. 
The speciality of the Farmacia was Don Bartolo's 
famous anti-cholerical mixture, labelled with a 
picture of San Gennaro on one side and a skull 
on the other with the words " Morte alia colera " 
underneath. Its composition was a family secret 


handed down from father to son ever since the 
epidemic of 1834 when, in collaboration with San 
Gennaro, it had saved the city. Another speci- 
ality of the Farmacia was a mysterious hottle 
labelled with a heart pierced by Cupid's arrow, 
a filtro d'amore. Its composition also was a 
family secret, it was much in demand, I under- 
stood. Don Bartolo's clients seemed chiefly 
drawn from the many convents and churches 
round his street. There were always a couple of 
priests, monks or f rati sitting on the chairs before 
the counter in animated discussion about the 
events of the day, the last miracles performed by 
this or that saint and the efficacy of the various 
Madonnas, La Madonna del Carmine, la Madonna 
delTAiuto, la Madonna della Buona Morte, la 
Madonna della Colera, TAddolorata, la Madonna 
Egiziaca. Seldom, very seldom, I heard the 
name of God mentioned, the name of His Son 
never. I once ventured to express my surprise 
to a shabby old Frate who was a particular friend 
of mine over this omission of Christ in their dis- 
cussions. The old Frate made no secret of his 
private opinion that Christ owed his reputation 
solely to His having the Madonna for His Mother. 
As far as he knew, Christ had never saved any- 
body from the cholera. His Blessed Mother had 
cried her eyes out for Him. What had He done 
for Her in return? " Woman," He said, " what 
have I to do with Thee? " 

" Percio ha finito male, that's why He came to 
a bad end." 

As Saturday approached the names of the 
various saints and Madonnas dropped more and 

164s NAPLES 

more from the conversation. On Friday night the 
Farmacia was full of people gesticulating wildly in 
animated discussion about their chances for the 
Banco di Lotto of to-morrow. 

Trentaquattro, sessantanove, quarantatre, dici- 

Don Antonio had dreamt his aunt had died sud- 
denly and left him five thousand lire, sudden death 
49, money 70! Don Onorato had consulted 
the hunchback in Via Forcella, he was sure of his 
terno 9, 39, 20! Don Bartolo's cat had had seven 
kittens in the night numbers 7, 16, 64! Don 
Dionisio had just read in the * Pungolo ' that a 
camorrista had stabbed a barber at Immacolatella. 
Barber 21, knife 41! Don Pasquale had got 
his numbers from the custodian of the cemetery 
who had heard them distinctly from a grave 
il morto che parla 48! 

It was at the Farmacia di San Gennaro I first 
made the acquaintance of Doctor Villari. I had 
been told by Don Bartolo that he had come to 
Naples two years ago as an assistant to old 
Doctor Bispu, the well-known doctor of all the 
convents and congregations in the quarter, who 
at his death had handed over his large practice to 
his young assistant. I was always glad to meet 
my colleague, I took a great liking to him from 
the very first. He was a singularly handsome 
man with nice, quiet manners, very unlike the 
ordinary type of Neapolitan. He came from the 
Abruzzi. It was through him I first heard of the 
Convent of the Sepolte Vive, the grim old building 
in the corner of the street with its small Gothic 
windows and huge massive iron gates, sombre and 


silent like a grave. Was it true that the nuns 
entered through these gates wrapped in the shroud 
of the dead and laid in a coffin, and that they could 
never get out as long as they were alive? 

Yes, it was quite true, the nuns had no com- 
munication with the outer world. He himself dur- 
ing his rare professional visits to the convent was 
preceded by an old nun ringing a bell to warn the 
nuns to shut themselves up in their cells. 

Was it true what I had heard from Padre An- 
selmo, their confessor, that the cloister-garden was 
full of antique marbles? 

Yes, he had noticed lots of fragments lying 
about, he had been told that the convent stood on 
the ruins of a Greek temple. 

My colleague seemed to like to talk to me, he 
said he had no friends in Naples, like all his coun- 
trymen he hated and despised the Neapolitans. 
What he had witnessed since the outbreak of the 
cholera made him loathe them more than ever. 
It was difficult not to believe that it was the 
punishment of God that had fallen on their rot- 
ten city. Sodom and Gomorrha were nothing com- 
pared to Naples. Did I not see what was going 
on in the poor quarters, in the streets, in the in- 
fected houses, even in the churches while they 
were praying to one saint and cursing another? 
A frenzy of lust was sweeping all over Naples, 
immorality and vice everywhere in the very face 
of Death. Assaults on women had become so 
frequent that no decent woman dared to leave her 

He did not seem to be afraid of the cholera, he 
said he felt quite safe under the protection of the 


Madonna. How I envied him his faith! He 
showed me the two medallions his wife had hung 
round his neck the day the cholera broke out, one 
was a Madonna del Carmine, the other was Santa 
Lucia, the patron saint of his wife, his wife's name 
was Lucia. She had worn the little medallion 
ever since she was a child. I said I knew Santa 
Lucia well, I knew she was the patron saint of the 
eyes. I had often wished to light a candle before 
her shrine, I who had lived for years in fear of 
losing my sight. He said he would tell his wife 
to remember me in her prayers to Santa Lucia, 
who had lost her own eyes but had restored the 
light to so many others. He told me that from 
the moment he left his house in the morning, his 
wife was sitting by the window looking out for 
his return. She had nobody but him in the world, 
she had married him against the wish of her 
parents, he had wanted to send her away from 
the infected city but she had refused to leave him. 
I asked him if he was not afraid of death. He 
said not for himself but for the sake of his wife. 
If only death from cholera was not so hideous! 
Better to be taken at once to the cemetery than to 
be seen by eyes that loved you! 

" I am sure you will be all right," I said, " you 
have at least somebody who prays for you, I have 

A shadow passed over his handsome face. 

" Promise me if . . ." 

" Don't let us talk about death," I interrupted 
him with a shudder. 

The little Osteria delTAllegria behind Piazza 
Mercato was a favourite resting-place of 


The food was abominable but the wine was excel- 
lent, six sous the litre, I had plenty of it. I often 
spent half of the night there when I dared not go 
home. Cesare, the night-waiter, soon became a 
great friend of mine. After the third case of 
cholera in my locanda it ended by my moving 
into an empty room in the house he lived in. My 
new quarters were as dirty as the locanda, but 
Cesare was right, it was much better to be "in 
compagnia." His wife was dead, but Mariuccia, 
his daughter, was alive, very much so. She 
believed she was fifteen, but she was already in 
full bloom, black-eyed and red-lipped, she looked 
like the little Venus of the Capitol Museum. She 
washed my linen, cooked my macaroni, and made 
up my bed when she did not forget it. She 
had never seen a forestiere before. She was 
always coming into my room with a bunch of 
grapes, a slice of water-melon or a plate of figs. 
When she had nothing else to offer me she took 
the red rose from her black curls and handed it 
to me with her enchanting smile of a siren and a 
sparkling question in her eyes, whether I would 
not like to have her red lips as well? The whole 
day she was singing from the kitchen in her 
strong, shrill voice: 

" Amore ! Amore I " 

In the night I heard her tossing about in her 
bed on the other side of the partition wall. She 
said she could not go to sleep, she said she was 
afraid to be alone at night, she was afraid to dor- 
mire sola. Was I not afraid to dormire solo? 

" Dormite, signorino? " she whispered from her 


No, I did not sleep, I was wide awake, I did not 
like to dormire solo more than she did. 

What new fear was making my heart beat so 
tumultuously and making the blood rush through 
my veins with fever speed? Why, when sitting 
half-asleep in the side aisle of Santa Maria del 
Carmine, had I not noticed before all these beauti- 
ful girls in their black mantillas kneeling on the 
marble floor by my side and smiling at me on the 
sly in the midst of their prayers and incantations? 
How could I have passed every day for weeks in 
front of the fruttivendola in the street corner with- 
out stopping to chat with Nannina, her beautiful 
daughter, with the same colour oil her cheeks as 
the peaches she was selling? Why had I not 
discovered before that the fioraia in Piazza Mer- 
cato had the same enchanting smile as Botti- 
celli's Primavera? How could I have spent so 
many evenings in the Osteria delTAllegria un- 
aware that it was not the vino di Gragnano but 
the sparkle in Carmela's eyes that went to my 
head? How was it possible that I had only heard 
the groans of the dying and the tolling of the 
church-bells when from every street sounded laugh- 
ter and love-songs, when under every portico stood 
a girl whispering to her amoroso? 
" O Mari', O Mari', quanto sonno ho perso pez te. 

Fammi dormire. 

Abbracciato un poco con te." 
sang a youth under Mariuccia's window. 

" O Carme! O Carme! " sang another outside 
the osteria. 

" Vorrei baciare i tuoi capelli neri," 
rang out from Piazza Mercato. 


" Vorrei baciare i tuoi capelli neri," 
echoed in my ears as I lay in my bed listening to 
the respiration of Mariuccia asleep on the other 
side of the partition wall. 

What had happened to me? Was I bewitched 
by a strega? Had one of these girls poured some 
drops of Don Bartolo's filtro d'amore in my wine? 
What had happened to all these people around 
me? Were they all drunk with the new wine or 
had they gone mad with lust in the very face of 

Morto la colera, ewiva la gioial 

I was sitting at my usual table in the Osteria 
half -asleep before my bottle of wine. It was 
already past midnight, I thought I had better wait 
where I was, to return home with Cesare when he 
had finished his job. A boy ran up to my table 
and handed me a piece of paper. 

" Come," was scribbled on the paper in almost 
illegible letters. 

Five minutes later we stopped before the huge 
iron gates of the convent of the Sepolte Vive. I 
was let in by an old nun who preceded me across 
the cloister garden ringing a bell. We passed 
along an immense, deserted corridor, another nun 
held up a lantern to my face and opened the door 
to a dimly-lit room. Doctor Villari was lying on 
a mattress on the floor. I hardly recognized him 
at first. Padre Anselmo was just giving him the 
Last Sacraments. He was already in stadium 
algidum, his body was quite cold but I could see 
by his eyes that he was still conscious. I looked 
at his face with a shudder, it was not my friend I 
looked at, it was Death, terrible, repulsive Death. 


He raised his hands several times pointing at me, 
his ghastly face twitching under a desperate effort 
to speak. From his grimacing lips came distinctly 
the word: " specchio! " A nun brought after some 
delay a little mirror, I held it before his half -closed 
eyes. He shook his head several times, it was the 
last sign of life he gave, an hour later the heart 
stood still. 

The cart stood before the gate to take away the 
bodies of the two nuns who had died during the 
day. I knew it rested with me whether he was 
to be taken away at the same time or left where he 
was till the next evening. They would have 
believed me had I said he was still alive, he 
looked exactly the same as when I had come. I 
said nothing. Two hours later his body was 
thrown with hundreds of other bodies in the 
common grave in the cholera cemetery. I had 
understood why he had raised his hand and 
pointed at me and why he had shaken his head 
when I had held the mirror before his eyes. He 
did not want his wife to see what he had seen in 
the mirror, and he wanted me to go and tell her 
when all was over. 

As I stood before his house I saw the white 
face of a woman, almost a child, in the window. 
She reeled back with terror in her eyes as I opened 
the door. 

" You are the foreign doctor he has told me so 
much about, he has not come back, I have been 
standing in the window the whole night. Where 
is he? " 

She threw a shawl over her shoulders and rushed 
to the door. 


" Take me to him at once, I must see him at 
once! " 

I held her back, I said I must speak to her first. 
I told her he had been taken ill in the convent of 
the Sepolte Vive, the whole place was infected, she 
could not go there, she must think of the child she 
was going to give birth to. 

"Help me downstairs, help me downstairs! I 
must go to him at once, why don't you help me? " 
she sobbed. 

Suddenly she gave a piercing scream and sank 
down on the chair on the point of fainting. 

" It is not true, he is not dead, why don't you 
speak, you are a liar, he cannot be dead without 
my seeing him." 

She sprang to the door once more. 

" I must see him, I must see him! " 

Once more I held her back. 

" You cannot see him, he is no longer there, he 
is . . ." 

She sprang at me like a wounded animal. 

"You had no right to have him taken away 
before I had seen him/' she screamed, mad with 
rage. " He was the light of my eyes, you have 
taken the light from my eyes! You are a liar, a 
murderer! Holy Lucia, take the light from his 
eyes as he has taken the light from my eyesl 
Sting out his eyes as you stung out your own 

An old woman rushed into the room and sprang 
at me with uplifted hands as if she wanted to 
scratch my face. 

" Holy Lucia, take the sight away from him I 
Blind him! " she screamed at the top of her voice. 


"Potess' essere ciecato, potess' essere ciecato," 
she was still shouting from the landing as I reeled 
down the stairs. 

The terrible curse, the most terrible that ever 
could have been hurled against me, was ringing in 
my ears the whole night. I dared not go home, 
I was afraid of the dark. I spent the remainder 
of the night in Santa Maria del Carmine, I thought 
the day would never come. 

When I staggered into the Farmacia di San 
Gennaro in the morning for my usual pick-me-up, 
another of Don Bartolo's specialities of extraor- 
dinary efficacy, Padre Anselmo had just left a 
message for me to come to the convent at once. 

The whole convent was in commotion, there had 
been three fresh cases of cholera. Padre Anselmo 
told me that after a long conversation between 
the Abbess and himself, it had been decided to 
ask me to replace my dead colleague, no other 
doctor being available. Panic-stricken nuns were 
running to and fro through the corridors, others 
were praying and singing incantations in the 
chapel. The three nuns were lying on their 
straw mattresses in their cells. One of them 
died in the evening. In the morning, the old 
nun who had been assisting me was struck down 
in her turn. She was replaced by a young* nun 
I had already noticed during my first visit, 
indeed it was difficult not to notice her, for she 
was very young and strikingly beautiful. She 
never said a word to me. She did not even 
answer when I asked her what was her name, 
but I found out from Padre Anselmo that she was 
Suora Ursula. Later in the day I asked to 


speak to the Abbess and was taken by Suora 
Ursula to her cell. The old Abbess looked at me 
with her cold, penetrating eyes, severe and scru- 
tinizing as those of a judge. Her face was rigid 
and lifeless as if cut in marble, her thin lips looked 
as if they had never parted in a smile. I told her 
the whole convent was infected, the sanitary condi- 
tions were appalling, the water in the garden well 
was polluted, the whole place must be evacuated 
or they would all die of cholera. 

She answered it was impossible, it was against 
the rules of their order, no nun, once inside their 
convent, had ever left it alive. They all had to 
remain where they were, they were in the hands 
of the Madonna and of San Gennaro. 

Except for a rapid visit to the Farmacia for a 
steadily increased dose of Don Bartolo's miracu- 
lous pick-me-up, I never left the convent for 
several unforgettable days of terror. I had to 
tell Padre Anselmo I must have some wine, and 
soon I had plenty of it, probably too much. 
Sleep I had next to none, I did not seem to need 
any sleep. I do not even believe I could have 
slept had I had the chance, fear and innumerable 
cups of black coffee had roused my whole mental 
machinery into an extraordinary state of excite- 
ment which took away all fatigue. My only 
relaxation was when I could steal into the 
cloister-garden where I sat smoking endless 
cigarettes on the old marble bench under the 
cypresses. Fragments of antique marbles were 
lying all over the garden, even the well-head 
was made out of what had once been a cippo, a 
Roman altar. It is now in the courtyard of 


San Miehele. At my very feet lay a mutilated 
fawn of rosso antico, and half-hidden amongst 
the cypresses stood a little Eros still erect on his 
column* of African marble. A couple of times 
I had found Suora Ursula sitting on the bench, 
she said she had to come out for a breath of 
fresh air or she would faint from the stench all 
over the building. Once she brought me a cup 
of coffee and stood in front of me waiting for the 
cup while I drank my coffee as slowly as possible 
to make her stand there a little longer. It seemed 
to me as if she had become a little less shy, as if 
she did not mind that I was so slow in handing 
back my empty cup to her. It seemed a rest to 
my tired eyes to look at her. It soon became a 
joy for she was very beautiful. Did she under- 
stand what my eyes said to her but my lips dared 
not say, that I was young and she was fair? 
There were moments when I almost thought she 

I asked her why she had come here to bury 
her young life in the grave of the Sepolte Vive. 
Did she not know that outside this place of 
terror and death the world was as beautiful as 
before, that life was full of joy and not only of 

" Do you know who is this boy? " I said pointing 
to the little Eros under the cypresses. 

She thought it was an angelo. 

No, it is a god, the greatest of all gods and per- 
haps the* oldest of all gods. He ruled over Olym- 
pus and he still rules over our world to-day. 

"Your convent stands on the ruins of an 
antique temple, its very walls had crumbled to 


dust destroyed by time and man. This little boy 
alone has remained where he stood with the 
quiver of arrows in his hand, ready to raise his 
bow. He is indestructible because he is immortal. 
The ancients called him Eros, he is the god of 

As I spoke the blasphemous word the bell from 
the chapel called the nuns to their evening prayer. 
She crossed herself and hurried out of the garden. 

A moment later another nun came rushing 
to take me to the Abbess, she had fainted in the 
chapel, they had just carried her to her cell. 
The Abbess looked at me with her terrible eyes. 
She raised her hand and' pointed to the Crucifix 
on the wall, they brought her the Last Sacra- 
ments. She never rallied, she never spoke, the 
action of the heart grew weaker and weaker, she 
was sinking rapidly. She lay there the whole day, 
the Crucifix on her breast, her rosary in her hands, 
her eyes closed, her body slowly growing cold. 
Once or twice I thought I heard a faint beating 
of the heart, soon I heard nothing. I looked at 
the rigid, cruel face of the old Abbess which even 
death had not been able to soften. It was almost 
a relief to me that her eyes were closed for ever, 
there was something in those eyes that had 
frightened me. I looked at the young nun by my 


" I cannot stay here any longer," I said, " I have 
not slept since I came here, my head is swimming, 
I am not myself, I do not know what I am doing, 
I am afraid of myself, I am afraid of you, I am 
afraid of . . " 


I had not time to finish the word, she had not 
time to draw hack, my arms had closed round her, 
I felt the tumultuous beating of her heart against 
my heart. 

" Pieta! " she murmured. 

Suddenly she pointed towards the hed and sprang 
out of the room with a cry of terror. The eyes of the 
old Abbess were looking straight at me, wide-open, 
terrible, menacing. I bent over her, I thought I 
heard a faint fluttering of the heart. Was she dead 
or alive? Could those terrible eyes see, had they 
seen? Would those lips ever speak again? I dared 
not look at those eyes, I pulled the sheet over her 
face and sprang from the cell, from* the Sepolte 
Vive, never to return there any more. 

The next day I fainted in Strada Piliero. When 
I regained consciousness I was lying in a cab with 
a terrified policeman sitting on the seat opposite 
me. We were on our way to Santa Maddalena, the 
cholera hospital. 

I have described elsewhere how that drive ended, 
how three weeks later my stay in Naples ended with 
a glorious sail across the bay in Sorrento's best 
sailing-boat together with a dozen stranded Capri 
fishermen, how we lay a whole unforgettable day 
off the Marina of Capri unable to land on account 
of the quarantine. 

I took good care not to describe in * The 
Letters from a Mourning City' what happened 
in the convent of the Sepolte Vive. I have 
never dared to tell it to anybody, not even to my 
faithful friend Doctor Norstrom, who was keeping 
a catalogue of most of the shortcomings of my 


youth. The memory of my disgraceful conduct 
haunted me for years. The more I thought of 
it, the more incomprehensible it seemed to me. 
What had happened to me? What unknown 
force had been at work to make me lose the 
control over my senses, strong, but so far less 
strong than my head? I was no newcomer to 
Naples, I had chattered and laughed with those 
fiery girls of the south before. I had danced the 
tarantella with them many a summer evening in 
Capri. I may have stolen a kiss or two from 
them if it came to the worst, but I had always 
remained the captain of the ship, quite capable 
of suppressing any sign of insubordination of the 
crew. In my student days in Quartier Latin I 
had almost fallen in love with Sceur Philomene, 
the beautiful young sister in Salle St. Claire, all 
I had dared to do had been to stretch out my 
hand timidly to bid her good-bye the day I was 
leaving the hospital for good, and she did not even 
take it. Now in Naples I had wanted to throw 
my arms round every girl I set eyes on, and no 
doubt I would have done it had I not fainted in 
Strada Piliero the day I had kissed a nun at the 
death-bed of an Abbess! 

In looking back upon my Naples days after a 
lapse of so many years I can no more excuse my 
conduct to-day than I could then, but maybe I can 
to a certain extent explain it. 

I have not been watching during all these years 
the battle between Life and Death without getting 
to know something of the two combatants. When 
I first saw Death at work in the hospital wards it 
was a mere wrestling match between the two, a 


mere child's play compared with what I saw later. 
I saw Him at Naples killing more than a thousand 
people a day before my very eyes. I saw Him at 
Messina burying over one hundred thousand men, 
women and children under the falling houses in a 
single minute. Later on I saw Him at Verdun, 
His arms red with blood to the elbows, slaughtering 
four hundred thousand men, and mowing down the 
flower of a whole army on the plains of Flanders 
and of the Somme. It is only since I have seen 
Him operating on a large scale that I have begun 
to understand something of the tactics of the war- 
fare. It is a fascinating study, full of mystery 
and contradictions. It all seems at first a bewilder- 
ing chaos, a blind meaningless slaughter full of 
confusion and blunders. At one moment Life, 
brandishing a new weapon in its hand, advances 
victoriously, only to retire the next moment, de- 
feated by triumphant Death. It is not so. The 
battle is regulated in its minutest details by an 
immutable law of equilibrium between Life and 
Death. Wherever this equilibrium is upset by some 
accidental cause, be it pestilence, earthquake or war, 
vigilant Nature sets to work at once to readjust 
the balance, to call forth new beings to take the 
place of the fallen. Compelled by the irresistible 
force of a Natural Law men and women fall in 
each other's arms, blindfolded by lust, unaware that 
it is Death who presides over their mating, his 
aphrodisiac in one hand, his narcotic in the other. 
Death, the giver of Life, the slayer of Life, the be- 
ginning and the end. 


I HAD been away three months instead of one. 
I felt sure that many of my patients would 
stick to my friend Doctor Norstrom, who had been 
looking after them during my absence. I was 
mistaken, they all came back to me, some better, 
some worse, all speaking very kindly of my 
colleague but equally kindly of me. I should 
not have minded in the least if they had stuck 
to him, I had my hands full in any case and I 
knew that his practice was dwindling away more 
and more, that he had even had to move from 
Boulevard Haussmann to a more modest apart- 
ment in Rue Pigalle. Norstrom had always 
been a loyal friend, had helped me out of many 
scrapes in the beginning of my career when I 
was still dabbling in surgery, always ready to 
share the responsibility for my many blunders. 
I well remember, for instance, the case of Baron 
B. I think I had better tell you this story to 
make you understand what sort of man my 
friend was. Baron B., one of the oldest members 
of the Swedish colony, always in indifferent 
health, had been attended by Norstrom for 
years. One day Norstrom with his fatal timidity 
suggested that I should be called in in consul- 
tation. The Baron took a great liking to me. 



A new doctor is always believed to be a good 
doctor until he has been proved the contrary. 
Norstrom wanted an immediate operation, I was 
against it. The Baron wrote to me he was getting 
tired of Norstrom's gloomy face and asked me to 
take him in hand. Of course I refused, but Nor- 
strom insisted upon retiring and my taking over 
the case. The Baron's general condition improved 
rapidly, I was congratulated on all sides. A month 
later it became clear to me that Norstrom was 
right in his diagnosis, but that it was now too late 
for an operation, that the man was doomed. I 
wrote to his nephew in Stockholm to come out 
to bring him home to die in his own country. It 
was with the greatest difficulty I succeeded in 
persuading the old gentleman. He did not 
want to leave me; I was the only doctor who 
understood his case. A couple of months later 
his nephew wrote to me that his uncle had left 
me in his will a very valuable gold repeater 
in remembrance of what I had done for him, 
I often make it strike the hour to remind me 
what sort of stuff the reputation of a doctor is 
made of. 

Of late the position between Norstrom and me 
had somewhat changed. I was more and more 
called in consultation by his patients, much too 
often. I had just seen one of them die rather un- 
expectedly that very afternoon, the worse luck for 
Norstrom as the patient was one of the best known 
members of the colony. Norstrom was very much 
upset about it. I took him to dine with me at 
Cafe de la Regence to cheer him up a little. 

" I wish you could explain to me the secret of 


your success and of my failure," said Norstrom 
looking gloomily at me across the bottle of St. 

"It is above all a question of luck," said L 
" There is also a temperamental difference between 
you and me which enables me to seize Fortune by 
her hair while you sit still and let her fly past, your 
hands in your pockets. I am convinced that you 
know more thaa I do about the human body in 
health and disease; it is just possible that although 
you are twice my age, I know more than you do 
about the human mind. Why did you tell the Rus- 
sian prof essor I handed over to you that he had 
angina pectoris, why did you explain to him all the 
symptoms of Hs fatal disease? " 

" He insisted upon knowing the truth, I had to 
tell him or he would not have obeyed me." 

"I did not tell him anything of the sort, he 
obeyed me anyhow. He told you a lie when he 
told you he wanted to know everything and that he 
was not afraid of death. Nobody wants to know 
how ill he is, everybody is afraid of death and for 
good reason. This man now is far worse. His 
existence is paralysed by fear, it is all your fault." 

" You are always talking about nerves and mind 
as if our body was made of nothing else. The cause 
of angina pecfcoris is arteriosclerosis of tibe eoronari 

" Ask Professor Huchard what happened in his 
clinic last week while he was demonstrating to us 
a case of angina pectoris! The woman suddenly 
started a terrible attack which the Professor him- 
self thought would be fatal. I asked his permission 
to try to stop it with mental treatment, he said it 


was useless but he consented. I laid my hand on her 
forehead, and told her it would pass off immediate- 
ly, a minute later the terror went out of her eyes, 
she drew a deep breath and said she felt all right. 
Of course you say it was a ease of pseudo-angina, 
fausse angine de poitrine; I can prove you the con- 
trary. Four days later she had another to all ap- 
pearance quite similar attack, she died in less than 
five minutes. You are always trying to explain to 
your patients what you cannot even explain to 
yourself. You forget th&t it is all a question of 
faith not of knowledge, like tie faith in God. The 
Catholic Church never explains anything and re- 
mains the strongest power in the world, the Protes- 
tant Church tries to explain everything and is crum- 
bling to pieces. The less your patients know the 
truth, the better for them, Ib was never meant that 
the working of the organs of our body should be 
watched by the mind, to make your patients think 
about their illness is to tamper with the laws of 
Nature. Tell them that they must do so and so, 
take such and such a remedy in order to get better, 
and that if they don't mean to obey you, they must 
go to somebody else. Do not call on them except 
when they are in absolute need of you, do not 
talk too much to them or they will soon find you 
out and how little we know. Doctors like royalties 
should keep aloof as much as possible, or their 
prestige will suffer, we all look our best in a some- 
what subdued light. Look at the doctor's own 
family, who always prefer to consult somebody 
else! I am actually attending, on the sly, the wife 
of one of the most celebrated physicians in Paris, 
not later than to-day she showed me his last pre- 

ON WOMEN" 183 

scription to ask me if it would do her any good." 
" You are always having women around you. I 
wish women would like me as much as they seem 
to like you, even my old cook is in love with you 
since you cured her of shingles." 

" I wish to goodness they did not like me, I 
would gladly hand over all these neurotic females 
to you. I know that I owe them to a considerable 
extent my reputation as a so-called fashionable doc- 
tor, but let me tell you they are a great nuisance, 
often even a danger. You say you want women to 
like you, well don't tell them so, don't make too 
much of them, don't let them order you about as 
they please. Women, though they do not seem to 
know it themselves, like far better to obey than to 
be obeyed. They pretend to be our equals, but they 
know jolly well themselves that they are not luck- 
ily for them, for if they were our equals we should 
like them far less. I think on the whole much better 
of women than of men, but I do not tell it to them. 
They have far more courage, they face disease and 
death much better than we do, they have more pity 
and less vanity. Their instinct is on the whole a 
safer guide through their life than our intelligence, 
they do not make fools of themselves as often as we 
do. Love means to a woman far more than it means 
to a man, it means everything. It is less a ques- 
tion of senses than man generally understands. A 
woman can fall in love with an ugly man, even an 
old man if he rouses her imagination. A man can- 
not fall in love with a woman unless she rouses his 
sexual instinct, which, contrary to nature's inten- 
tion, survives in modern man his sexual power. 
There is therefore no age limit for falling in love, 


Richelieu was irresistible at the age of eighty when 
he could hardly stand on his legs and Goethe was 
seventy when he lost his head for Ulrike von Lev- 

" Love itself is short-lived like the flower. With 
man it dies its natural death in marriage, with 
woman it often survives to the last transformed in 
a purely maternal tenderness for the fallen hero of 
her dreams. Women cannot understand that man 
is by nature polygamous. He may be tamed to 
enforced submission to our recent code of social 
morals, but his indestructible instinct is only dor- 
mant. He remains the same animal his Creator 
made him, ready to carry on business as usual re- 
gardless of undue delay. 

" Women are not less intelligent than men, per- 
haps they are as a rule more intelligent. But their 
intelligence is of different order. There is no get- 
ting over the fact that the weight of the man's brain 
is superior to that of the woman's. The cerebral 
convolutions already visible in the new-born child 
are quite different in the two brains. The anatomi- 
cal differences become even more striking when you 
compare the occipital lobe of the two brains, it is 
precisely on account of the pseudo-atrophy of this 
lobe in the brain of the woman that Husche attrib- 
utes to it such great psychical importance. The 
law of differentiation between the sexes is an mi- 
mutable law of Nature which runs through the 
whole creation to become more and more accentu- 
ated the higher the types are developed. We are 
told that it can all be explained by the fact that we 
have kept all culture as a sex monopoly to ourselves, 
that the women have never had a fair chance. 


Haven't they? Even in Athens the situation of the 
women was not inferior to that of the men, every 
branch of the culture was at their disposition. The 
Ionic and Doric races always recognized their free- 
dom, it was even too great with the Lacedoemonians. 
During the whole Roman Empire, four hundred 
years of high culture, the women enjoyed a great 
deal of freedom. It is enough to remember that 
they disposed entirely of their own property. Dur- 
ing the Middle Ages the instruction of the women 
was far superior to that of men. The knights knew 
better how to handle the sword than the pen, the 
monks were learned but there were plenty of nun- 
neries as well, with equal opportunities to learn for 
their inmates. Look at our own profession where 
the women are no newcomers ! There were already 
women professors at the school of Salerno, Louise 
Bourgeois physician to Marie de Medicis the wife 
of Henry IV wrote a bad book on midwifery, Mar- 
guerite la Marche was sage-f emme en chef at the 
Hotel Dieu in 1677, Madame La Chapelle and 
Madame Boivin wrote endless books on women's 
diseases, all very poor stuff. During the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries there were plenty 
of women professors in the famous Italian univer- 
sities, Bologna, Pavia, Ferrara, Naples. They 
never did anything to advance their special science. 
It is just because obstetrics and gynecology were 
left in the hands of women that these two branches 
of our profession remained for so long at a hope- 
less standstill. The advance only began when 
they were taken in hand by men. Even to-day 
no woman when her life or the life of her child is 
in danger will stick to a doctor of her own sex. 


" Look at music 1 All the ladies of the Renais- 
sance played the lute and later on the harpsichord, 
the harp, the clavecin. For a century all better- 
class girls have been hard at work at their pianos 
but so far I know of no first class piece of music 
composed by a woman, nor do I know a woman 
who can play to my liking the Adagio Sostenuto of 
Beethoven's Op. 106. There is hardly a young lady 
who does not go in for painting, but as far as I 
know no gallery in Europe contains a picture of the 
first rank signed by a woman except perhaps Rosa 
Bonheur, who had to shave her chin and who dressed 
as a man. 

" One of the greatest poets of old times was a 
woman. Of the wreath of flowers round the 
enchantress-brow all that remains are a few petals 
of roses, fragrant with eternal spring. What im- 
mortal joy and what immortal sadness does not echo 
in our ears in this far-away siren-song from the 
shore of Hellas! Beautiful Sappho, shall I ever 
hear your voice again? Who knows if you are not 
singing still in some lost fragment of the anthology, 
safe under the lava of Herculaneum! " 

"I do not want to hear anything more about 
your Sappho," growled Norstrom, " what I know 
of her and her worshippers is more than enough for 
me. I do not want to hear anything more about 
women. You have had more wine than is good for 
you, you have been talking a lot of nonsense, let us 
go home I" 

Half-way down the Boulevard my friend wanted 
a bock, so we sat down at a table outside a cafe. 

" Bonsoir, cheri," said the lady at the next table 
to my friend. " Won't you stand me a bock, I have 


had no supper." Norstrom told her in an angry 
voice to leave him alone. 

^ Bonsoir, Chloe," said I. " How is Flopette? " 

" She is doing the back streets, she is no good on 
the Boulevard till after midnight." 

As she spoke Flopette appeared and sat down by 
the side of her comrade-in-arms. 

" You have been drinking again, Flopette," said 
I, " do you want to go to the devil altogether? " 

" Yes," she answered in a hoarse voice, " it can- 
not be worse than here." 

" You are not very particular about your ac- 
quaintances," growled Norstrom, looking horrified 
at the two prostitutes. 

" I have had worse acquaintances than these 
two," said I. " I am besides their medical adviser* 
They both have syphilis, absinthe will do the rest, 
they will end in St. Laaare or in the gutter ere long. 
At least they do not pretend to be anything but 
what they are. Do not forget that what they are, 
they have to thank a man for, and that another 
man is standing in the street corner opposite to take 
from them the money we give them. They are not 
so bad as you think, these prostitutes, they remain 
women to the last, with all their faults but also 
with some of their virtues surviving their collapse. 
Strange to say, they are even capable of falling in 
love, in the highest significance of the word and a 
more pathetic sight you never saw. I have had a 
prostitute in love with me, she became timid and 
shy as a young girl, she could even blush under her 
coating of rouge. Even this loathsome creature at 
the next table might have been a nice woman had 
she had a chance. Let me tell you her story." 


" Do you remember," said I as we strolled down 
the Boulevard arm in arm, " do you remember the 
girls' school in Passy kept by the Soeurs St. Therese 
where you took me last year to see a Swedish girl 
who died of typhoid fever? There was another case 
in the same school shortly afterwards attended by 
me, a very beautiful French girl about fifteen. One 
evening as I was leaving the school I was accosted 
in the usual way by a woman patrolling the trottoir 
opposite. As I told her roughly to leave me alone, 
she implored me in a humble voice to let her say a 
few words to me. She had been watching me com- 
ing out of the school every day for a week, she had 
not had the courage to speak to me as it was still 
daylight. She addressed me as Monsieur le Doc- 
teur and asked in a trembling voice how was the 
young girl with typhoid fever, was it dangerous? 

" *I must see her before she dies/ " she sobbed, 
the tears rolling down her painted cheeks, " I must 
see her, I am her mother." The nuns did not know, 
the child had been put there when she was three 
years old, the money was paid through the bank. 
She herself had never seen the child since then ex- 
cept when watching her from the street corner every 
Thursday when the girls were taken out for their 
afternoon walk. I said I was very worried about 
the child, that I would let her know if she got worse. 
She did not want to give me her address, she begged 
me to let her wait for me in the street every evening 
for news. For a week I found her there trembling 
with anxiety. I had to tell her the child was get- 
ting worse, I knew well it was out of the question 
to make this wretched prostitute see her dying child, 
all I could do was to promise her to let her know 


when the end was near, whereupon she consented at 
last to give me her address. Late the next evening 
I drove to her address in a street of evil repute, be- 
hind the Opera Comique. The cabman smiled sig- 
nificantly at me and suggested he should come back 
to fetch me in an hour. I said a quarter of an hour 
would do. After a rapid scrutiny by the matron 
of the establishment, I was admitted to the presence 
of a dozen half -naked ladies in short tunics of red, 
yellow or green muslin. Would I make my choice? 
I said my choice was made, I wanted Mademoiselle 
Flopette. The matron was very sorry, Mademoi- 
selle Flopette had not yet come down, she had of 
late been very negligent of her duties,, she was still 
dressing in her bedroom. I asked to be taken there 
at once. It was twenty francs payable in advance 
and a souvenir a discretion to Flopette if I was 
satisfied with her, which I was sure to be, she was 
une fille charmante, prete a tout and very rigolo. 
Would I like a bottle of champagne taken up to 
her room? 

Flopette was sitting before her mirror hard at 
work to cover her face with rouge. She sprang 
from her chair, snatched a shawl to hide her appall- 
ing full undress uniform and stared at me with a 
face of a clown, with patches of rouge on her cheeks, 
one eye black with kohl, the other red with tears. 

" ' No, she is not dead, but she is very bad. The 
nun who is on night duty is worn out, I have told 
her I would bring one of my nurses for tonight. 
Scrape off that horrible paint from your face, 
straighten out your hair with oil or vaseline or what- 
ever you like, take off your dreadful muslin gown 
and put on the nurse's uniform you will find in this 


parcel. I have just borrowed it from one of my 
nurses, I thing it will do, you are about the same 
size. I shall come back and fetch you in half-an- 
hour/ " She stared speechless at me as I went 

" c Already/ " said the matron looking very sur- 
prised. I told her I wanted Mademoiselle Flopette 
to spend the night with me, I was coming back to 
fetch her. As I drove up before the house half-an- 
hour later Flopette appeared in the open door in 
the long cloak of a nurse surrounded by all the 
ladies in their muslin uniforms of Nothing-at-all. 

" ' Aren't you lucky, old girl/ " they giggled in 
chorus, " * to be taken to the Bal Masque the last 
night of carnival, you look very chic and quite re- 
spectable, I wish your monsieur would take us all ! * " 

" 'Amusez-vous, mes enfants/ " smiled the ma- 
tron accompanying Flopette to my cab, " * it is fifty 
francs payable in advance.* " 

" There was not much nursing to be done. The 
child was sinking rapidly, she was quite uncon- 
scious, it was evident that the end was near. The 
mother sat the whole night by the bedside staring 
through her tears at her dying child. 

" ' Kiss her good-bye/ " said I as the agony set 
in, " *it is all right, she is quite unconscious.' " 

She bent over the child but suddenly she drew 

" 'I dare not kiss her/ " she sobbed, " 'you know 
I am rotten all over.' " 

" The next time I saw Flopette she was blind 
drunk. A week later she threw herself into the 


Seine. She was dragged out alive, I tried to get 
her admitted to St. Lazare, but there was no bed 
available. A month later she drank a bottle of 
laudanum, she was already half-dead when I came, 
I have never forgiven myself for pumping the poi- 
son out of her stomach. She was clutching in her 
hand the little shoe of a small child, and in the shoe 
was a lock of hair. Then she took to absinthe, as 
reliable a poison as any, though, alas, slow to kill. 
Anyhow she will soon be in the gutter, a safer pkce 
to drown herself in than is the Seine." 

We stopped before Norstrom's house, Rue 

" G-ood-night," said my friend. "Thank you for 
a pleasant evening." 

" The same to you," said L 


PERHAPS the less said the better about the 
journey I made to Sweden in the summer 
of that year. Norstrom, the placid recorder of 
most of the adventures of my youth, said that so 
far it was the worst story I had ever told him. To- 
day it can harm nobody but myself and I may as 
well tell it here. 

I was asked by Professor Bruzelius, the leading 
physician of Sweden in those days, to go to San 
Remo and accompany Jiome a patient of his, a boy 
of eighteen who had spent the winter there in an 
advanced stage of consumption. He had had 
several haemorrhages of late. His condition was 
so serious that I only consented to take him home 
if he were accompanied by a member of the family 
or at least a competent Swedish nurse, the possi- 
bility of his dying on the way having to be con- 
sidered. Four days later his mother arrived at 
San Remo. We were to break our journey in 
Basel and Heidelberg and to take the Swedish 
steamer from Liibeck to Stockholm. We arrived 
at Basel in the evening after a very anxious jour- 
ney. In the night the mother had a heart attack 
which nearly killed her. The specialist I called 
in in the morning agreed with me, that she would 
in no case be able to travel for a couple of weeks. 



The choice lay between letting the boy die in Basel 
or continuing the journey with him alone. Like 
all those who are about to die he was longing to 
get home. Rightly or wrongly I decided to go on 
to Sweden with him. The day after our arrival 
at the Hotel Victoria in Heidelberg he had an- 
other severe haemorrhage from the lungs and all 
hope of continuing the journey had to be aban- 
doned. I told him we were to wait where we were 
a couple of days for his mother. He was very 
reluctant to postpone our journey a single day. 
He was eagerly studying the trains in the evening. 
He was sleeping peacefully when I went to have 
a look at him after midnight. In the morning I 
found him dead in his bed, no doubt from an in- 
ternal haemorrhage. I wired my colleague in Basel 
to communicate the news to the mother of the boy 
and let me have her instructions. The professor 
wired back that her condition was so serious that 
he dared not tell her. Convinced as I was that 
she wanted her son to be buried in Sweden I put 
myself in communication with an undertaker for 
all the necessary arrangements. I was informed 
by the undertaker that according to the law the 
body must be embalmed, price two thousand 
marks. I knew the family was not rich. I de- 
cided to embalm the body myself. There was no 
time to lose, it was the end of July, the heat was 
extreme. With the aid of a man from the An- 
atomical Institution I made a summary embalm- 
ment in the night at the cost of about two hundred 
marks. It was the first embalmment I had ever 
done, I am bound to say it was not a success, very 
far from it. The lead coffin was soldered in my 


presence, the outer oak coffin was enclosed in an 
ordinary deal packing-case according to the rail- 
way regulations. The rest was to be done by the 
undertaker in charge qf the transport of the body 
by rail to Liibeck and from there by ship to Stock- 
holm. The sum of money I had received from 
the mother for the journey home was hardly suffi- 
cient to pay the bill of the hotel. I protested in 
vain against the exorbitant charge for the bed- 
ding and the carpet in the room the boy had died 
in. When all was settled I had barely enough 
money left to pay my own journey to Paris. I 
had never been out of the house since my arrival, 
all I had seen of Heidelberg had been the garden 
of the Hotel de 1'Europe under my windows. I 
thought I might at least have a look at the famous 
old ruined castle before leaving Heidelberg where 
I hoped never to return. As I was standing by 
the parapet of the castle terrace looking down 
upon the Neckar valley at my feet, a dachshund 
puppy came rushing up to me as fast as his crooked 
little legs could carry his long, slender body, and 
started licking me all over the face. His cun- 
ning eyes had discovered my secret at the first 
glance. My secret was that I had always been 
longing to possess just such a little Waldmann 
as these fascinating dogs are called in their own 
native country. Hard up though I was I bought 
Waldmann at once for fifty marks and we re- 
turned in triumph to the Hotel Victoria, Wald- 
mann trotting close to my heels without a leash, 
quite certain that his master was I and nobody 
else. There was an extra charge in the mornnig 
for something about the carpet in my room. My 


patience was at an end, I had already spent eight 
hundred marks on carpets in the Hotel Victoria, 
Two hours later I presented the carpet in the boy's 
room to an old cobbler I had seen sitting mending 
a pair of boots outside his poor home full of ragged 
children. The director of the hotel was speech- 
less with rage, but the cobbler got his carpet. My 
mission in Heidelberg was ended, I decided to 
take the morning train for Paris. In the night 
I changed my mind and decided to go to Sweden 
anyhow. My arrangements for being away from 
Paris for a fortnight were already made, Nors- 
trom was to look after my patients during my 
absence, I had already wired to my brother that 
I was coming to stay with him in the old home 
for a couple of days, surely such an opportunity 
for a holiday in Sweden would never return. My 
one thought was to clear out from the Hotel 
Victoria. It was too late to catch the passenger 
train for Berlin, I decided to take the goods train 
in the evening, the same that was conveying the 
body of the boy to Liibeck and to go on with the 
same Swedish steamer to Stockholm. AJS I was 
sitting down to my supper in the buffet of the 
station I was informed by the waiter that dogs 
were "verboten" in the restaurant. I put a 
five-mark piece in his hand and Waldmann under 
the table, and was just beginning to eat my sup- 
per when a stentorian voice from the door called 

" Der Leichenbegleiterl " 

All the occupants of the tables looked up from 
their plates scanning each other, but nobody 


" Der Leiehenbegleiter! " 

The man banged the door to return a moment 
later with another man whom I recognized as 
the undertaker's clerk. The owner of the sten- 
torian voice came up to me and roared in my 

" Der Leichenbegleiter! " 

Everybody looked at me with interest. I told 
the man to leave me alone, I wanted to have my 
supper. No, I must come at once, the station- 
master wanted to speak to me on most urgent 
business. A giant with bristling porcupine mous- 
taches and gold-rimmed spectacles handed me a 
pile of documents and shrieked in my ear some- 
thing about the van having to be sealed and that 
I must take my place in it at once. I told him 
in my best German that I had already reserved 
my place in a second-class compartment. He said 
it was " verboten," I must be locked up with the 
coffin in the van at once. 

" What the devil do you mean? " 

" Aren't you der Leichenbegleiter? Don't you 
know that it is * verboten ' in Germany for a corpse 
to travel without his Leichenbegleiter and that 
they must be locked up together? " 

I showed him my second-class ticket for Liibeck, 
I told him I was an independent traveller going 
for a holiday to Sweden. I had nothing whatso- 
ever to do with the coffin, 

" Are you or are you not the Leichenbegleiter? " 
he roared angrily. 

" I am certainly not. I am willing to try my 
hand at any job but I refuse to be a Leichenbe- 
gleiter, I do not like the word." 


The statiomnaster looked bewildered at his 
bundle of papers, and announced that unless the 
Leichenbegleiter turned up in less than five min- 
utes the van containing the coffin for Liibeek would 
be shunted off on the side-track and remain in 
Heidelberg. As he spoke, a little hunchback with 
restless eyes and a face ravaged with small-pox 
rushed up to the stationmaster's desk with a pile 
of documents in his hands. 

"Ich bin der Leichenbegleiter," he announced 
with unmistakable dignity. 

I nearly embraced him, I have always had a 
sneaking liking for hunchbacks. I said I was de- 
lighted to make his acquaintance, I was going on 
to Liibeck with the same train as he and to take 
the same steamer to Stockholm. I had to hold on 
to the stationmaster's desk when he said he was 
not going to Stockholm, but to St. Petersburg 
with the Russian general and from there to Nijni- 

The stationmaster looked up from his bundle of 
documents, his porcupine moustache bristling with 

" Potzdonnerwetter! " he roared, " there are two 
corpses going on to Liibeck by this train! I have 
only one coffin in the van, you cannot put two 
corpses in one coffin, it is 'verboten.* Where is 
the other coffin? " 

The hunchback explained that the coffin of 
the Russian general was just being unloaded 
from the cart to be put in the van, it was all the 
fault of the carpenter who had only finished 
the second packing-case in the nick of time. 
Who could have dreamt that he was to provide 


two such huge packing-cases on the same day I 
The Russian general! I suddenly remembered 
having been told that an old Russian general 
had died of an apoplectic stroke in the hotel 
opposite ours the same day as the boy. I even 
remembered having seen from my window a fierce- 
looking old gentleman with a long grey beard in a 
bath chair in the hotel gardens. The porter had 
told me that he was a famous Russian general, a 
hero of the Crimean war. I had never seen a more 
wild-looking man. 

While the stationmaster returned to the perusal 
of his entangled documents, I took the hunch- 
back aside, patted him cordially on the back and 
offered him fifty marks cash and another fifty 
marks I meant to borrow from the Swedish 
Consul in Liibeck if he would undertake to be 
the Leichenbegleiter of the coffin of the boy as 
well as of that of the Russian general. He 
accepted my offer at once. The stationmaster 
said it was an unprecedented case, it raised a 
delicate point of law, he felt sure it was "ver- 
boten" for two corpses to travel with one 
Leichenbegleiter between them. He must con- 
sult the Kaiserliche Oberliche Eisenbahn Amt 
Direktion Bureau, it would take at least a week 
to get an answer. It was Waldmann who saved 
the situation. Several times during our dis- 
cussions I had noticed a friendly glance from the 
stationmaster's gold-rimmed spectacles in the 
direction of the puppy and several times he had 
stretched his enormous hand for a gentle stroke 
on Waldmann's long, silky ears. I decided on 
a last desperate attempt to move his heart. 


Without saying a word I deposited Waldmann 
on his lap. As the puppy licked him all over 
the face and started pulling at his porcupine 
moustaches, his harsh features softened gradually 
into a broad, honest smile at our helplessness. 
Five minutes later the hunchback had signed a 
dozen documents as the Leichenbegleiter of the 
two coffins, and I with Waldmann and my 
Gladstone bag was flung into a crowded second- 
class compartment as the train was starting. 
Waldmann offered to play with the fat lady 
next to us, she looked sternly at me and said 
that it was "verboten" to take a dog in a 
second-class compartment, was he at least " stuben- 
rein"? Of course he was " stubenrein," he had 
never been anything else. Waldmann now turned 
his attention to the basket on the fat lady's lap, 
sniffed eagerly and started barking furiously. 
He was barking still when the train stopped at 
the next station. The fat lady called the guard 
and pointed to the floor. The guard said it was 
"verboten" to travel with a dog without a 
muzzle. In vain did I open Waldmann's mouth 
to show to the guard that he had hardly any teeth, 
in vain did I put my last five-mark piece in the 
guard's hand, Waldmann must be taken at once 
to the dog-box. Bent on revenge I pointed to 
the basket on the fat lady's lap and asked the 
guard if it was not " verboten " to travel with a 
cat without a ticket? Yes, it was "verboten." 
The fat lady and the guard were still quarrelling 
when I climbed down on the platform. The 
travelling accommodation for dogs was in those 
days shamefully inadequate, a dark cell just over 


the wheels, saturated with fumes from the loco- 
motive, how could I put Waldmann there? I 
rushed to the luggage van and implored the 
guard to take charge of the puppy, he said it 
was "verboten." The sliding doors of the next 
van were cautiously drawn aside, just enough to 
let the head of the Leichenbegleiter pop out, a 
long pipe in his mouth. With the agility of a cat 
I climbed into the van with Waldmann and the 
Gladstone bag. 

Fifty marks payable on arrival if he would hide 
Waldmann in his van till Liibeck! Before he 
had time to answer the doors were bolted from 
outside, a sharp whistle from the locomotive 
and the train began to move. The big van was 
quite empty but for the two packing-cases con- 
taining the two coffins. The heat was tremendous 
but there was ample room to stretch out one's 
legs. The puppy fell asleep immediately on my 
coat, the Leichenbegleiter produced a bottle of 
hot beer from his provision basket, we lit our 
pipes and sat down on the floor to discuss the 
situation. We were quite safe, nobody had seen 
me jump in with the dog, I was assured that no 
guard ever came near the van. When an hour 
later the train slowed down for the next stop I 
told the Leichenbegleiter that nothing but sheer 
force could make me part company with him, 
I meant to remain where I was till we reached 
Liibeck. The hours passed in agreeable con- 
versation chiefly kept going by the Leichenbe- 
gleiter, I speak German very badly though I 
understand it quite well. My friend said he had 
made this same journey many times, he even 


knew the name of each station we stopped at al- 
though we never saw anything of the outside world 
from our prison van. He had been a Leichenbe- 
gleiter for more than ten years, it was a pleasant 
and comfortable job, he liked travelling and seeing 
new countries. He had been in Russia six times 
before, he liked the Russians, they always wanted 
to be buried in their own country. A large number 
of Russians were coming to Heidelberg to consult 
its many famous Professors. They were their best 
clients. His wife was by profession a Leichen- 
wascherin. Hardly any embalmment of impor- 
tance was made without their assistance. Pointing 
to the other packing-case he said he felt rather 
vexed that neither he nor his wife had been called in 
for the Swedish gentleman. He suspected that he 
was the victim of some intrigue, there was much 
professional jealousy between him and his two other 
colleagues. There was a certain mystery about the 
whole affair, he had not even been able to find out 
what doctor had made the embalmment. They were 
not all equally good about it. Embalmment was a 
very delicate and complicated business, one never 
knew what might happen during a long journey in 
hot weather like this. Had I assisted at many em- 
balmments ? 

Only at one, said I with a shudder, 

" I wish you could see the Russian general," said 
the Leichenbegleiter enthusiastically, pointing with 
his pipe to the other packing-case. " He is per- 
fectly wonderful, you would never believe it was a 
corpse, even his eyes are wide-open. I wonder why 
the stationmaster was so particular about you," he 
went on. " It is true you are rather young to be a 


Leichenbegleiter but so far as I can see you are 
respectable enough. All you need is a shave and a 
brush-up, your clothes are all covered with dog's 
hair and surely you cannot present yourself to- 
morrow at the Swedish Consulate with such a chin, 
I am sure you have not shaved for a week, you look 
more like a brigand than a respectable Leichenbe- 
gleiter. What a pity I have not got my razors with 
me or I would shave you myself at the next stop." 
I opened my Gladstone bag and said I would be 
much obliged if he would spare me the ordeal, I 
never shaved myself if I could help it. He exam- 
ined my razors with the eyes of a connoisseur, said 
the Swedish razors were the best in the world, he 
never used any others himself. He had a very light 
hand, he had shaved hundreds of people and never 
heard a word of complaint. 

I have never been better shaved in my life and I 
told him so with my compliments when the train 
began to move again. 

" There is nothing like travelling in foreign coun- 
tries," said I as I washed the soap off my face, 
" every day one learns something new and interest- 
ing. The more I see of this country the more I 
realize the fundamental differences between the 
Germans and other people. The Latin and the 
Anglo-Saxon races invariably adopt the sitting-up 
position for being shaved, in Germany you are 
made to lie flat on your back. It is all a matter of 
taste, chacun tue ses puces & sa facon, as they say 
in Paris." 

"It is a matter of habit," explained the 
Leichenbegleiter, "you cannot make a corpse 


sit up, you are the first living man I have ever 

My companion spread a clean napkin over his 
packing-case and opened his provision basket. An 
amalgamated scent of sausage, cheese and sauer- 
kraut tickled my nostrils, Waldmann woke up in- 
stantaneously, we watched him with hungry eyes. 
My joy was great when he invited me to partake 
of his supper, even the sauerkraut had lost its hor- 
ror to my palate. He won my heart when he pre- 
sented a large slice of Blutwurst to Waldmann. 
The effect was f ulmineous and lasted till Liibeek. 
When we had finished our second bottle of Moselle 
my new friend and I had few secrets left to reveal 
to one another. Yes, one secret I jealously kept 
to myself that I was a doctor. Experience in 
many lands had warned me that any hint of a class 
distinction between my host and myself would de- 
prive me of my unique opportunity of seeing life 
from the visual angle of a Leichenbegleiter. What 
little I know of psychology I owe to a certain in- 
born facility for adapting myself to the social level 
of my interlocutor. When I am having supper 
with a duke I feel quite at home with him and that 
I am his equal. When I am having supper with a 
Leichenbegleiter I become as far as in my power a 
Leichenbegleiter myself. 

Indeed when we started our third bottle of Mo- 
selle it only rested with me to become a Leichenbe- 
gleiter in earnest. 

" Cheer up, Fritz," said my host with a merry 
twinkle in his eye, " don't look so dejected I I know 
you are out of cash and that something must have 
gone wrong with you. Never mind, have another 


glass of wine and let us talk business. I have not 
been a Leichenbegleiter for more than ten years 
without learning what sort of people I am dealing 
with! Intelligence is not everything. I am sure 
you were born under a lucky star or you would not 
be here sitting by my side. Here is your chance, 
the chance of your life! Deliver your coffin in 
Sweden while I am delivering mine in Russia and 
come back to Heidelberg by the first train. I will 
make you my partner. As long as Professor Freid- 
reich is alive there will be work for two Leichenbe- 
gleiters or my name is not Zaccharias Schweinfuss! 
Sweden is no good for you, there are no famous 
doctors there, Heidelberg is full of them, Heidel- 
berg is the place for you." 

I thanked my new friend cordially and said I 
would give him my definite answer in the morning 
when our heads had cleared a little. A few minutes 
later we were both fast asleep on the floor of the 
Leichenwagen. I had an excellent night, Wald- 
mann less so. When the train rolled into the 
Liibeck station it was broad daylight. A clerk from 
the Swedish Consulate was waiting on the platform 
to superintend the transporting of the coffin on 
board the Swedish steamer for Stockholm. After 
a cordial " Auf weidersehen " to the Leichenbe- 
gleiter I drove to the Swedish Consulate. As soon 
as the Consul saw the puppy he informed me that 
the importation of dogs was forbidden, there having 
of late been several cases of hydrophobia in North- 
ern Germany. I might try with the captain but 
he felt sure that Waldmann would not be admitted 
on board. I found the captain in a very bad tem- 
per, all sailors are when they have a coffin among 


their cargo. All my pleading was in vain. En- 
couraged by my success with the stationmaster in 
Heidelberg I decided to try 'him with the puppy. 
Waldmann licked him in vain all over the face. 
I then decided to try him with my brother. 
Yes, of course he knew Commandor Munthe quite 
well, they had sailed together on the * Vanadis * as 
midshipmen, they were great friends. 

Could he be so cruel as to leave my brother's 
beloved puppy stranded in Liibeck among total 

No, he could not be so cruel. Five minutes later 
Waldmann was locked up in my cabin to be smug- 
gled in on my own responsibility on our arrival in 
Stockholm. I love the sea, the ship was comfort- 
able, I dined at the captain's table, everybody on 
board was most polite to me. The stewardess 
looked somewhat sulky when she came to make up 
my cabin in the morning, but she became our ally 
as soon as the offender began to lick her all over 
the face, she had never seen a more fascinating 
puppy. When Waldmann appeared surreptitious- 
ly on the f oredeck all the sailors began to play with 
him and the captain looked on the other side in 
order not to see him. It was late at night when we 
laid alongside the quay in Stockholm and I jumped 
on shore from the bow of the ship with Waldmann 
in my arms. I called in the morning on Professor 
Bruzelius who showed me a telegram from Basel 
that the mother was out of danger and that the 
funeral of the boy was postponed till her arrival in 
about a fortnight's time. He hoped I would still 
be in Sweden, the mother would be sure to wish to 
hear from me of her son's last moments and of 


course I must assist at the funeral. I told him I 
was going on a visit to my brother before returning 
to Paris, I was in a great hurry to be back to my 

I had never forgiven my brother for having 
dumped on me our terrible heirloom of Mamsell 
Agata, I had written him an angry letter on the 
subject. Luckily he seemed to have forgotten 
all about it. He said he was delighted to see me 
and both he and his wife hoped I would remain 
in the old home for at least a fortnight. Two 
days after nay arrival he expressed his surprise 
that a busy doctor like me could be away from 
his patients so long, what day was I leaving? 
My sister-in-law had become glacial. There is 
nothing to do with people who dislike dogs but 
to pity them and start with your puppy on a 
walking-tour, knapsack on back. There is nothing 
better for a puppy than camping out in the open 
and sleeping under friendly furs on a carpet of 
soft moss instead of a carpet from Smyrna. My 
sister-in-law had a headache and did not come down 
to breakfast the morning I was starting, I wanted 
to go to her room to wish her good-bye. My 
brother advised me not to do it. I did not insist 
after he had told me that the housemaid had just 
found under my bed his wife's new Sunday hat, 
her embroidered slippers, her feather boa, two vol- 
umes of the * Encyclopaedia Britannica * torn to 
pieces, the remains of a rabbit, and her missing kit- 
ten, his head almost bitten off. As to the Smyrna 
carpet in the drawing-room, the flower-beds in the 
garden and the six ducklings in the pond. . . , 

MY" 3TXKST TMiTBAT/iirMTgiqrT 20T 

I looked at my watch and told my brother I al- 
ways liked to be in good time at the station. 

" Olle," shouted my brother to my father's old 
coachman as we drove away, " for Heaven's sake 
see that the Doctor does not miss his train." 

A fortnight later I was back in Stockholm. 
Professor Bruzelius told me that the mother had 
arrived from the continent that same morning, 
the funeral was to take place next day, of course 
I must attend. To my horror he went on to say 
that the poor mother insisted on seeing her son 
before he was buried, the coffin was to be opened 
in her presence in the early morning. Of course 
I would never have embalmed the body myself 
had such a possibility ever entered my head. I 
knew I had meant well, but done badly, that in 
all probability the opening of the coffin would re- 
veal a terrible sight. My first thought was to 
bolt and take the night train for Paris. My sec- 
ond thought was to stay where I was and play 
the game. There was no time to lose. With the 
powerful help of Professor Bruzelius I succeeded 
with great difficulty in obtaining the permission 
to open the coffin in order to proceed to a sum- 
mary disinfection of the remains if it should prove 
necessary, which I was convinced was the case. 
Shortly after midnight I descended to the vault 
under the church accompanied by the custodian 
of the cemetery and a workman who was to 
open the two coffins. When the lid of the inner 
lead coffin was unsoldered the two men stood 
back in silent reverence before the awe of death* 
I took the lantern from the custodian and un- 
covered the face. The lantern fell on the floor, 


I reeled back as if struck by an invisible hand. 

I have often wondered at my presence of mind 
that night, I must have had nerves of steel in those 

" It is all right," said I, rapidly covering the 
face again, "screw on the lid, there is no need 
for any disinfection, the body is in perfect state 
of preservation." 

I called on Professor Bruzelius in the early 
morning. I told him that the sight I had seen 
in the night would haunt the poor mother for life, 
that he must at all costs prevent the opening of 
the coffin. 

I assisted at the funeral. I have never assisted 
at another since that day. The coffin was carried 
to the grave on the shoulders of six of the boy's 
schoolfellows. The clergyman in a moving allo- 
cution said that God in His inscrutable wisdom 
had willed it, that this young life so full of promise 
and joy should be cut short by cruel death. It 
was at least a comfort to those who stood mourn- 
ing around his premature grave that he had come 
back to rest among his own people in the land of 
his birth. They would at least know where to 
lay their flowers of loving memory, where to pray. 
A choir of undergraduates from Upsala sang the 

" Integer vitae scelerisque purus." 

I have hated this beautiful Ode of Horace ever 
since that day. 

Supported by her aged father the mother of the 
boy advanced to the open grave and lowered a 
wreath of lilies of the valley on the coffin. 


" It was his favourite flower," she sobbed. 

One by one the other mourners came forth with 
their bunches of flowers and looked down into the 
grave with tear-filled eyes for the last farewell. 
The choir sang the customary old hymn: 

" Rest in peace, the strife is ended." 

The grave-diggers began to shovel the earth ovey 
the coffin, the ceremony was over. 

When they had all gone I looked down in the 
half -filled grave in my turn. 

" Yes, rest in peace, grim old fighter, the strife 
is ended! Rest in peace! Do not haunt me any 
longer with those wide-open eyes of yours or I shall 
go crazy! Why did you stare so angrily at me 
when I uncovered your face last night in the vault 
under the chapel ? Do you think I was more pleased 
to see you than you were to see me? Did you 
take me for a grave-plunderer who had broken 
open your coffin to rob you of the golden ikon on 
your breast? Did you think it was I who brought 
you here? No, it was not I. For all I know it 
was the Archfiend himself in the shape of a drunken 
hunchback who caused you to come here! For 
who but Mephisto, the eternal jester, could have 
staged the ghastly farce just enacted here? I 
thought I heard his mocking laughter ringing 
through their sacred chant, God forgive me, I was 
not far from laughing myself when your coffin 
was lowered into this grave. But what matters 
it to you whose grave it is? You cannot read 
the name on the marble cross, what matters it to 
you what name it is? You cannot hear the voices 
of the living overhead, what matters it to you what 
tongue they speak? You are not lying here 


amongst strangers, you are lying side by side with 
your own kinsmen. So is the Swedish boy who 
was laid to rest in the heart of Russia while the 
buglers of your old regiment were sounding the 
Last Post by your grave. The kingdom of death 
has no borders, the grave has no nationality. You 
are all one and the same people now, you will soon 
even look exactly the same. The same fate awaits 
you all wherever you are laid to rest, to be for- 
gotten and to moulder into dust, for such is the 
law of life. Rest in peace, the strife is ended." 


NOT far from Avenue de Villiers there lived 
a foreign doctor, a specialist, I understood, 
in midwifery and gynecology. 

He was a coarse and cynical fellow who had 
called me in consultation a couple of times, not 
so much to be enlightened by my superior knowl- 
edge as to shift some of his responsibility on my 
shoulders. The last time he had called me in, 
had been to assist at the agony of a young girl 
dying of peritonitis under very suspicious circum- 
stances, so much so that it was with hesitation 
I consented to put my name next to his under 
the death certificate. On coming home late one 
night I found a cab waiting for me at the door 
with an urgent request from this man to come 
at once to his private clinic in Rue Granet I had 
decided to have nothing more to do with him but 
the message was so urgent that I thought I had 
better go with the cab anyhow. I was let in by 
a stout, unpleasant looking woman who announced 
herself as Madame Requin, sage-femme de I-ere 
classe, and took me to a room on the top floor, 
the same room in which the girl had died. Blood- 
soaked towels, sheets and blankets were lying all 
over the place, blood dripping from under the bed 
with a sinister sound. The doctor, who thanked 



me warmly for having come to his rescue, was in 
a great state of agitation. He said there was no 
time to lose and he was right there, for the woman 
lying unconscious on her * lit de travail ' looked 
more dead than alive. After a rapid examination 
I asked him angrily why he had not sent for a 
surgeon or an accoucheur instead of me, since he 
knew that neither of us two was fit to deal with 
such a case. The woman rallied a little after a 
couple of syringes of camphor and ether. I de- 
cided with some hesitation to^ make him give her 
a little chloroform while I set to work. With my 
usual luck all went tolerably well and after vig- 
orous artificial respiration even the half -suffocated 
child returned to life to our great surprise. But 
it was a narrow escape for both mother and child. 
There was no more cotton-wool, linen or dressing 
material of any sort to stem the haemorrhage, but 
luckily we came upon a half -open Gladstone bag 
full of fine linen and ladies* underwear which we 
tore rapidly to pieces for tampons. 

"I never saw such beautiful linen," said my 
colleague holding up a linon chemise, " and look/* 
he exclaimed pointing to a coronet embroidered in 
red over the letter M, " ma foi, mon cher confrere, 
we are moving in good society! I assure you she 
is a very fine girl though there is not much left 
of her now, an exceptionally beautiful girl, I would 
not mind renewing her acquaintance if ever she 
pulls through." 

" Ah, la jolie broche," he exclaimed picking up 
a diamond brooch which had evidently fallen on 
the floor when we were ransacking the bag. " Ma 
foi! it looks to me as if it might make up for my 


bill if it comes to the worst. One never knows 
with these foreign ladies, she might choose to clear 
out as mysteriously as she came, God knows from 

" We are not there yet," said I snatching the 
brooch from his red fingers and putting it in my 
pocket, " according to French law the bill of the 
undertaker passes before the bill of the doctor, 
we don't yet know which of the two bills will be 
presented for payment first. As to the child . . ." 

" Never mind the child," he giggled, " we have 
plenty of babies here and to spare to substitute 
for it if it comes to the worst. Madame Requin 
is dispatching every week half-a-dozen babies with 
the * train des nourrices * from the Gare d'Orleans. 
But I cannot afford to let the mother slip through 
my fingers, I have to be careful about my statistics, 
I have already signed two death-certificates from 
this place in two weeks." 

The woman was still half -unconscious when I 
left at daybreak but the pulse had steadied itself 
and I told the doctor I thought she would live. I 
must have been in a pretty bad state myself or I 
would never have accepted the cup of black coffee 
Madame Requin offered me in her sinister little 
parlour as I staggered downstairs. 

" Ah, la jolie broche," said Madame Requin as 
I handed her the brooch for custody. "Do you 
think the stones are real? " she wondered holding 
the brooch close to the gaslight. It was a very 
fine diamond brooch with a letter M, surmounted 
with a coronet in rubies. The flash from the stones 
was all right, but the glare in her greedy eyes was 

214 'M'A-nAivra BEQUEST 

" No," said I to make up for my stupidity for 
having handed her the brooch, " I am sure it is 
all imitation." 

Madame Requin hoped I was mistaken, the lady 
had not had time to pay in advance as was the 
rule of the establishment, she had arrived in the 
nick of time in a half -fainting condition, there was 
no name on her luggage, it was labelled London. 

" That's enough, don't worry, you will be paid 
all right" 

Madame Requin expressed a hope soon to see 
me again and I left the house with a shudder. 

A couple of weeks later I received a letter from 
my colleague that all had gone well, the lady had 
left for an unknown destination as soon as she could 
stand on her feet, all bills having been paid and 
a large sum left in the hands of Madame Requin 
for the adoption of the child by some respectable 
foster-parents. I returned his bank-note in a short 
letter begging him not to send for me next time 
he was about to kill somebody. I hoped never to 
set eyes again either upon him or Madame Requin. 
My hope was realized as to the Doctor. As to 
Madame Requin I shall have to tell you more about 
her in due time. 


j\S time went on, I realized more and more 
/x how rapidly Norstrom's practice was dwin- 
dling away, and that the day might come when 
he would have to put up the shutters altogether. 
Soon even the numerous Scandivanian colony, rich 
and poor, was drifting away from Rue Pigafle to 
Avenue de Villiers. I tried in vain to stay the 
tide, luckily Norstrom never doubted my loyalty, 
we remanied friends to the last. God knows it 
was not a lucrative practice, this Scandinavian 
clientele. During my whole life as a doctor in 
Paris it was like a stone round my neck that might 
have drowned me had it not been for my firm 
footing in the English and American colony and 
among the French themselves. As it was, it 
took away a great deal of my time and brought 
me into all sorts of troubles, it ended even by 
bringing me to prison. It is a funny story, I 
often tell it to my friends who write books, as 
a striking application of the law of coincidence, 
the hard worked cheval de bataille of novelists. 

Apart from the Scandinavian workmen in Pan- 
tin and La Villette, over one thousand in all, al- 
ways in need of a doctor, there was the artist 
colony in Montmartre and Montparnasse always 
in need of money. Hundreds of painters, sculp- 



tors, authors of unwritten chef-d'oeuvres in prose 
and verse, exotic survivals of Henri Murger's c Vie 
de Boheme.' A few of them were already on the 
eve of success like Edelfeld, Carl Larson, Zorn 
and Strindberg, but the majority had to subsist 
on hope alone. Biggest in size but shortest in 
cash was my sculptor friend, the Giant, with the 
flowing blonde beard of a Viking and the guile- 
less blue eyes of a child. He seldom appeared 
in the Cafe de THermitage where most of his com- 
rades spent their evenings. How he got his fill 
for his six feet eight body was a mystery to all. 
He lived in an enormous, ice-cold hangar in Mont- 
parnasse adapted as a sculptor's studio, where he 
worked, cooked his food, washed his shirt and 
dreamt his dreams of future fame. Size was what 
he needed for himself and for his statues, all of 
superhuman proportions, never finished for want 
of clay. One day he appeared at Avenue de 
Villiers with a request to me to act as his best 
man for his marriage next Sunday in the Swedish 
church, to be followed by a reception in his new 
apartment to " pendre la cremaillere." The choice 
of his heart turned out to be a frail Swedish minia- 
ture painter less than half his size. Of course I 
was delighted to accept. The ceremony over, the 
Swedish chaplain made a nice little speech to the 
newly married couple seated side by side in front 
of the altar. They reminded me of the colossal 
statue of Ramses II seated in the temple of Luxor 
beside his little wife barely reaching his hip. An 
hour later we knocked at the door of the studio, 
full of expectations. We were ushered in by the 
Giant himself with great precaution through a 


lilliputian paper vestibule into his salon where we 
were cordially invited to partake of the refresh- 
ments and sit in turn on his chair. His friend 
Skornberg you may have seen his full-size por- 
trait in the Salon that year, easy to remember for 
he was the tiniest hunchback I have ever seen 
proposed the health of our host. Raising his glass 
with an enthusiastic wave of his hand he happened 
to knock down the partition wall, revealing to our 
marvelling eyes the bridal chamber with the nup- 
tial couch, adapted with skilful hands out of a 
packing case of a Bechstein Concert grand. While 
Skornberg was finishing his speech without further 
accidents the Giant rebuilt rapidly the partition 
wall with a couple of * Figaros/ Then he lifted a 
curtain and showed us with a cunning glance at 
his blushing bride, still another room, built of * Le 
Petit Journal ' it was the nursery. 

We left the paper house an hour later to meet 
for supper in the Brasserie Montmartre. I had 
to see some patients first, it was nearly midnight 
when I joined the party. In the centre of the 
big room sat my friends all red in their faces 
singing at the top of their voices the Swedish 
Anthem in a deafening chorus, interpolated with 
solos of thunder from the Giant's broad breast 
and the shrill piping of the little hunchback. As 
I was making my way through the crowded room 
a voice called out: "A la porte les Prussiens! 
A la porte les Prussiens!* A beer glass flew over 
my head and struck the Giant straight in the 
face. Streaming with blood he sprang from his 
seat, seized the wrong Frenchman by the collar 


and tossed him like a tennis ball across the counter 
into the lap of the proprietor, who screamed at 
the top of his voice: "La police! La police!" 
A second bock struck me on the nose smashing 
my eyeglasses and another bock hurled Skornberg 
under the table. " Throw them out! Throw 
them out! " roared the whole brasserie closing on 
us. The Giant with a chair in each hand mowed 
down his assailants like ripe corn, the little hunch- 
back flew out from under the table screaming 
and biting like an infuriated monkey till another 
bock knocked him senseless on the floor. The 
Giant picked him up, patted his best friend on 
the back and holding him tight under one arm 
he covered as best as he could our inevitable re- 
treat towards the door where we were seized by 
half-a-dozen policemen and escorted to the Com- 
missariat in Rue Douai. After having given our 
names and addresses we were locked up in a room 
with bars before the windows, we were au melon. 
After two hours of meditation we were brought 
before the Brigadier who, addressing me in a 
rough voice, asked if I was Doctor Munthe of 
Avenue de Villiers. I said I was. Looking at 
my nose swollen to twice its size and my torn 
blood-stained clothes he said I did not look like 
it He asked me if I had anything to say since 
I seemed to be the least drunk of this band of 
German savages and besides the only one who 
seemed to speak French. I told him we were a 
peaceful Swedish wedding party who had been 
brutally assailed in the brasserie, no doubt being 
mistaken for Germans. As the interrogation went 


on his voice became less stern and lie glanced now 
and then with something like admiration at the 
Giant with the half -unconscious little Skornberg 
like a child in his lap. At last he said with true 
French gallantry that it would indeed be a pity 
to keep a bride waiting the whole night for such 
a magnificent specimen of a bridegroom, and 
that he would let us off for the present pending 
the inquiry. We thanked him profusely and stood 
up to go. To my horror he said to me: 

" Please remain, I have to talk to you." He 
looked again at his papers, consulted a register on 
the table and said sternly: 

" You have given a false name, I warn you it is 
a very serious offence. To show you my good will 
I give you another chance to retract your state- 
ment to the police. Who are you? " 

I said I was Doctor Munthe. 

" I can prove you are not," he answered severely. 
" Look at this," he said pointing to the register. 
" Doctor Munthe of Avenue de Villiers is Chevalier 
de la Legion d'Honneur, I can see plenty of red 
spots on your coat but I can see no red ribbon." 

I said I did not often wear it. Looking at his 
empty buttonhole he said with a hearty laugh 
that he had yet to live to learn that there existed 
a man in France who had the red ribbon and did 
not wear it. I suggested sending for my concierge 
to identify me, he answered me it was unneces- 
sary, it was a case to be dealt with by the Com- 
missaire de Police himself in the morning. He 
rang the bell. 

" Search him," he said to the two policemen. 


I protested indignantly and said he had no right 
to have me searched. He said it was not only 
his right, it was, according to the police regula- 
tions, his duty for my own protection. The 
depot was crowded with all sorts of ruffians, he 
could not guarantee that any valuables in my pos- 
session might not he stolen from me. I said I 
had no valuables in my pocket except a small sum 
of money which I handed him. 

" Search him," he repeated. 

There was plenty of strength in me in those 
days, two policemen had to hold me while a third 
was searching me. Two gold repeaters, two old 
Breguet watches and an English hunting watch 
were found in my pockets. 

Not a word was said to me, I was immediately 
locked up in an evil-smelling cell. I sank down 
on the mattress wondering what would happen 
next. The right thing was of course to insist on 
communicating with the Swedish Legation, but I 
decided to wait till next morning. The door 
opened to let in a sinister-looking individual half 
Apache, half souteneur, who made me understand 
at a glance the wisdom of the prison regulations 
to have me searched. 

" Cheer up, Charlie," said the newcomer, " on 
t'a pince, eh? Don't look so dejected, never mind, 
you will be restored to society in twelve months 
if you are lucky, and surely you must be lucky 
or you would never have grabbed five watches in 
one single day. Five watches! Fichtrel I take 
iny hat off to you, there is nothing like you Eng- 

I said that I was not English and that I was 


a collector of watches. He said so was he. He 
threw himself on the other mattress, wished me 
good night and pleasant dreams and was snoring 
in a minute. From the other side of the partition 
wall a drunken woman started singing in a hoarse 
voice. He growled angrily: 

" Shut up, Fifine, ou je te casserai la 
gueule!" The singer stopped immediately and 

" Alphonse, I have something important to tell 
you. Are you alone? " He answered he was with 
a charming young friend who was anxious 
to know what o'clock it was as he had un- 
fortunately forgotten to wind up the five watches 
he was always carrying in his pockets. He soon 
fell asleep again, the babel of the ladies* voices 
gradually died away and all was still except for 
the coming of the guard every hour to look at 
us through the guiehet. As the clock struck seven 
in St. Augustin, I was taken out of the cell and 
brought before the Commissaire de Police him- 
self. He listened attentively to my adventure 
fixing me with his intelligent penetrating eyes the 
whole time. When I came to telling him of my 
mania for clocks and watches, that I had been on 
my way to Le Roy the whole day to have these five 
watches overhauled and had forgotten all about 
them when 1 was searched, he burst into laughter 
and said it was the best story he had ever heard, 
it was pure Balzac. He opened a drawer of the 
writing table and handed me my five watches. 

" I have not been sitting at this table for twenty 
years without learning something about classify- 
ing my visitors, you are all right." He rang the 


bell for the Brigadier who had locked me up for 
the night. 

" You are suspended for a week for having dis- 
obeyed the regulations to communicate with the 
Swedish Consul. Vous tes un imbecile! " 


old grandfather clock in the hall struck 
half past seven as I entered Avenue de 
Villiers silently as a ghost. It was the hour when 
punctually to the minute Mamsell Agata started 
to rub the patina off my old refectory table in 
the dining-room, there was a fair chance to reach 
in safety my bedroom, my only harbour of refuge. 
The rest of the house was all in the hands of 
Mamsell Agata. Silent and restless as a mon- 
goose she used to move about from room to room 
the whole day, a dust towel in her hand, in search 
of something to scrub or a torn letter to pick up 
from the floor. I stopped annihilated as I opened 
the door of my consulting room. Mamsell 
'Agata stood bending over the writing table exam- 
ining my morning maiL She lifted her head, her 
white eyes stared in grim silence at my torn, 
blood stained clothes, for once her lipless mouth 
did not find immediately the right unpleasant 

" Good Heavens, where has lie been? " she hissed 
at last. She was always used to call me "he" 
when she was angry, alas! she seldom called me 
anything else. 

" I have had a street accident," said I. I had 
long ago taken to lying to Mamsell Agata in legiti- 



mate self-defence. She examined my rags with 
the scrutinizing eye of the connoisseur, always on 
the look-out for anything to patch, to darn or to 
mend. I thought her voice sounded a little kinder 
as she ordered me to hand her my whole outfit at 
once. I slunk into my bedroom, had a bath, 
Rosalie brought me my coffee, nobody could make 
a cup of coffee like Mamsell Agata. 

" Pauvre Monsieur," said Rosalie as I handed 
her my clothes to be taken to Mamsell Agata, " I 
hope you are not hurt? " 

" No/' said I, " I am only afraid." 
Rosalie and I had no secrets from one another 
in what concerned Mamsell Agata, we both lived 
in deadly fear of her, we were comrades in arms 
in our daily defenceless battle for life. Rosalie, 
whose real profession was that of a charwoman, 
had come to my rescue the day the cook had bolted, 
and now since the housemaid had also cleared out 
she had remained with me as a sort of bonne a 
tout faire. The cook I was very sorry to lose 
but I soon had to admit that I had never eaten 
a better dinner than since Mamsell Agata had 
taken possession of the kitchen. The departed 
housemaid, a sturdy Bretonne, had also been much 
to my liking, she had always scrupulously ob- 
served our agreement that she should never go 
near my writing table and never touch the antique 
furniture. A week after Mamsell Agata's arrival 
she had shown signs of declining health, her hands 
had begun to tremble, she had dropped my finest 
old Faenza vase, and soon after she had fled in 
such a hurry that she had even forgotten to take 
her aprons with her. The very day of her de- 


parture Mamsell Agata had set to work rubbing 
and scrubbing my dainty Louis XVI chairs, beat- 
ing mercilessly my priceless Persian rugs with a 
hard stick, washing the pale marble face of my 
Florentine Madonna with soap and water, she had 
even succeeded in getting off the wonderful lustre 
of the Gubbio vase on the writing table* If Mam- 
sell Agata had been born four hundred years ago 
no trace of medieval art would have remained 
to-day. But how long ago was she born? She 
looked exactly the same as when I had seen her 
as a boy in my old home in Sweden. My elder 
brother had inherited her when the old home broke 
up. A man of exceptional courage as he is, he 
had succeeded in getting rid of her and handing 
her over to me. Mamsell Agata was the very 
thing for me, he had written, there never was a 
housekeeper like her. He was right there. Ever 
since, I in my turn, had tried to get rid of her* 
I used to invite my bachelor friends and stray 
acquaintances for luncheon, they all said I was 
lucky indeed to have such a wonderful cook. I 
told them I was going to get married, that Mam- 
sell Agata only liked bachelors and was looking 
out for another place. They were all very inter- 
ested and wanted to see her. That settled it, they 
never wanted to see her again if they could help 
it. To describe what she looked like is beyond 
me. She had thin golden locks arranged in a 
sort of early Victorian fashion Rosalie said it 
was a wig but I do not know. An exceptionally 
high and narrow forehead, no eyebrows, small 
white eyes and hardly any face at all, only a long 
hook nose overhanging a narrow slit which sel- 


dom opened to show a row of long pointed teeth 
like those of a ferret. The colour of her face and 
her fingers was a cadaverous blue, the touch of 
her hand was slimy and cold like that of a corpse. 
Her smile no, I think I won't tell you what her 
smile was like, it was what Rosalie and I feared 
most. Marnsell Agata only spoke Swedish but 
quarrelled fluently in French and English. I 
believe she must have ended by understanding a 
little French or she would not have picked up all 
she seemed to know about my patients. I often 
found her listening behind the door of my con- 
sulting room especially when I received ladies. 
She had a great liking for dead people, she al- 
ways seemed more cheerful when one of my pa- 
tients was on the point of dying, she seldom failed 
to appear on the balcony when a funeral passed 
down Avenue de Villiers. She hated children, she 
never forgave Rosalie for having given a piece of 
the Christmas cake to the children of the concierge. 
She hated my dog, she always went about blow- 
ing Keating's flea-powder on the carpets and 
started scratching herself as soon as she saw me, 
in sign of protestation. My dog hated her from 
the very first, perhaps because of the most pe- 
culiar smell which radiated from her whole per- 
son. It reminded me of the odeur de souris of 
Balzac's Cousin Pons but with a special blend of 
her own I have only noticed once in my life. That 
was when many years later I entered an aban- 
doned tomb in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes 
full of hundreds of large bats hanging in black 
dusters from its walls. 
Mamsell Agata never left the house except on 


Sundays when she sat all by herself in a pew in 
the Swedish church Boulevard Ornanot, praying 
to the God of Wrath. The pew was always empty, 
nobody dared to sit near her, my friend the Swedish 
chaplain told me that the first time he put the 
bread in her mouth during the Holy Communion 
she glared at him so savagely that he was afraid 
she might bite off his finger. 

Rosalie had lost all her former cheerfulness, she 
looked thin and wretched, spoke of going to live 
with her married sister in Touraine. Of course 
it was easier for me, who was away the whole day* 
As soon as t l returned home all the strength seemed 
to go out of my body, and a deadly grey weariness 
to fall over my thoughts like dust. Since I had 
discovered that Mamsell Agata was a sleep-walker, 
my nights had become still more agitated and 
restless, I often thought I smelt her even in my 
bedroom. At last I opened my heart to Flygare, 
the Swedish chaplain, who was a frequent visitor 
to my house and had, I think, a vague suspicion 
of the terrible truth. 

"Why don't you send her away," said the 
chaplain one day, "you cannot go on like this, 
really I am beginning to believe that you are afraid 
of her. If you haven't the courage to send her 
away, I will do it for you." 

I offered him a thousand francs for his church 
fund if he could send her away- 

" I shall give notice to Mamsell Agata to-night, 
don't worry, come to the sacristy to-morrow after 
service and you will have good news." 

There was no service in the Swedish church the 
next day, the chaplain had been taken suddenly 


ill the evening before, too late for finding a sub- 
stitute. I went at once to his house Place des 
Termes, his wife said she was just going to send 
for me. The chaplain had returned home the eve- 
ning before in an almost fainting condition, he 
looked as if he had seen a ghost, said his wife. 

Perhaps he has seen one, thought I, as I went 
to his room. He said he had just begun to tell 
Mamsell Agata his errand, he had expected her to 
be very angry, but instead of that she had only 
smiled at him. Suddenly he noticed a most pe- 
culiar smell in the room, he felt as if he was going 
to faint, he was sure it was the smell. 
" Xo," said I, " it was the smile." 
I ordered him to remain in bed till I called again, 
he asked what on earth was the matter with him, 
I said I did not know this was not true, I knew 
quite well, I recognized the symptoms. 

" By the bye," said I, as I stood up to go, " I 
wish you would tell me something about Lazarus, 
you who are a chaplain surely know more about 
him than I do. Isn't there an old legend. . . ." 
" Lazarus," said the chaplain in a feeble voice, 
" was the man who returned alive to his dwelling 
house from his grave where for three days and 
nights he had kin under the sway of death. There 
is no doubt about the miracle, he was seen by Mary 
and Martha and many of, his former friends." 
" I wonder what he looked like? " 
" The legend says that the destruction wrought 
by death on his body, arrested by miraculous 
power, was still apparent in the cadaverous blue- 
ness of his face and his long fingers, cold with the 
cold of death; his dark finger nails had grown 


immeasurably long, the rank odour of the grave 
still hung to his clothes. As Lazarus advanced 
among the crowd that had gathered to welcome 
him back to life, their joyous words of greeting 
died on their lips, a terrible shadow descended like 
dust over their thoughts. One by one they fled 
away, their souls benumbed by fear." 

As the chaplain recited the old legend his voice 
grew weaker and weaker, he tossed uneasily in 
his bed, his face grew white as the pillow under 
his head. 

" Are you sure that Lazarus is the only one who 
has risen from the grave," said I, " are you sure 
that he had not a sister? " 

The chaplain put his hands over his face with a 
shriek of terror. 

On the stairs I met Colonel Staaff the Swedish 
military attache who just came to inquire about 
the chaplain. The Colonel invited me to drive 
home with him, he wanted to speak to me on 
urgent business. The Colonel had served with great 
distinction in the French army during the war of 
*70 and had been wounded at Gravelotte. He 
had married a French lady and was a great 
favourite in Paris society. 

" You know/* said the Colonel, as we sat down 
to tea, "you know I am your friend and more 
than twice your age, you must not take amiss what 
I am going to tell you in your own interest. Both 
my wife and I have often heard of late complaints 
about you for the tyrannical sort of way you treat 
your patients. Nobody likes to have the words 
discipline and obedienoe constantly thrown into 
their faces. Ladies, specially French ladies, are 


not accustomed to such rough handling by a young 
fellow like you, they already call you Tiberius 
as a nickname. The worst of it is that I fear it 
seems as natural to you to command as you 
imagine it is natural to others to obey. You are 
mistaken, my young friend, nobody likes to obey, 
everybody likes to command." 

" I disagree, most people, and almost all women, 
like to obey." 

"Wait till you get married," said my gallant 
friend with a furtive glance towards the door of 
the sitting-room. 

" Now to a far more serious matter," the Colonel 
went on. " There is a rumour going about, that 
you are very careless as to appearances in regard 
to your private life, that there is a mysterious 
woman living with you in the assumed position 
of your housekeeper. Even the wife of the Eng- 
lish Consul hinted something of the sort to my 
wife who defended you most energetically. What 
would the Swedish Minister and his wife, who treat 
you as if you were their own son, say if they got 
hold of this rumour, what they are sure to do 
sooner or later? I tell you, my friend, this won't 
do for a doctor in your position with lots of ladies, 
English and French, coming to consult you. I 
repeat this won't do! If you must indulge in a 
mistress, go ahead! It is your affair but for 
Heaven's sake get her out of your house, not even 
the French can stand such a scandal! " 

I thanked the colonel, I said he was quite right, 
that I had often tried to get her out of my house 
but had not had the strength. 

" I know it is not easy," admitted the colonel, 


" I have been young myself. If you haven't got 
the courage to get her out of the house, I will 
help you! I am your man, I have never been 
afraid of anybody, man or woman, I have charged 
the Prussians at Gravelotte, I have faced death 
in six big battles. . . ." 

" Wait till you face Mamsell Agata Svenson," 
said I. 

" You don't mean to say she is Swedish? So 
much the better, if it comes to the worst I shall 
have her turned out of France by the legation. 
I shall be at Avenue de Villiers to-morrow morn- 
ing at ten, be sure to be there." 

" No thank you, not I, I never go near her 
when I can help it." 

" Et pourtant tu couches avec elle," ejaculated 
the colonel looking stupefied at me. 

I was just on the point of going to be sick on 
his carpet when he handed me a stiff brandy and 
soda in time and I reeled out of the house after 
having accepted his invitation for dinner next day 
to celebrate the victory. 

I dined alone with Madame Staaff the next day. 
The colonel was not very well, I was to go and 
see him after dinner, the old wound from Grave- 
lotte was troubling him again, thought his wife. 
The gallant colonel was lying on his bed with a 
cold compress on the top of his head, he looked 
very old and feeble, there was a vacant expression 
in his eyes I had never seen before. 

" Did she smile? " I asked him. 

He shuddered as he stretched his hand towards 
his brandy and soda. 


"Did you notice the long black hook on her 
thumb nail, like the hook of a bat? " 

He grew pale and wiped the perspiration from 
his forehead. 

" What shall I do," I said dejectedly, my head 
between my two hands. 

"There is only one possible escape for you," 
answered the colonel in a weak voice, " get married 
or you will take to drink." 


I DID not get married and I did not take to 
drink. I took to something else; I aban- 
doned Avenue de Villiers altogether. Rosalie 
brought my tea and my * Figaro * to my bedroom 
at seven o'clock, half an hour later I was off not 
to return till two o'clock for my consultation. I 
was off again with my last patient to come back 
late at night to creep to my bedroom stealthily 
as a thief. Rosalie's wages had been doubled. She 
stuck bravely to her post, she only complained of 
having nothing to do but to open the door. 
Everything else, the beating of the carpets, the 
mending of my clothes, the cleaning of my boots, 
the washing of my linen, the cooking of my food 
was done by Mamsell Agata. Realizing the 
necessity of a liaison between herself and the 
outer world and the need of somebody always at 
hand to quarrel with, Mamsell Agata now toler- 
ated Rosalie's presence with grim resignation. 
She had even smiled at her once, said Rosalie 
with a slight trembling in her voice. Soon Tom 
also took to abandoning Avenue de Villiers for 
fear of Mamsell Agata. He spent his days driv- 
ing about with me visiting patients, he seldom 
had a meal at home, he never went into the kitchen 
as all dogs love to do. As soon he returned 



from his day's work, he slung to his basket in 
my bedroom where he knew he was in relative 
safety. As my practice increased it became more 
and more difficult to snatch time for our usual 
Sunday afternoon romp in the Bois de Boulogne. 
Dogs as well as men must have an occasional 
sniff at Mother Earth to keep up their spirits. 
There is nothing like a brisk walk among friendly 
trees be it even the half-tamed trees of the 
Bois de Boulogne, and an occasional game of 
hide and seek among the thickets with a stray ac- 
quaintance. One day, as we were strolling down 
a side alley enjoying each other's company, we 
suddenly heard far behind us a desperate pant- 
ing and wheezing accompanied by fits of cough- 
ing and choking. I thought it was a case of 
asthma and Tom diagnozed it at once as a case 
of a half -suffocated small bulldog or pug approach- 
ing at full speed and imploring us with his last 
breath to wait for him. A minute later Loulou 
sank down hajf-dead at my feet, too fat to 
breathe, too exhausted to speak, his black tongue 
almost fallen out from his mouth, his blood-shot 
eyes protruding from their sockets with joy and 

"Loulou! Loulou!" a despairing voice 
screamed from a coupe driving past on the high 

" Loulou! Loulou! " called out a footman run- 
ning towards us behind the thickets. The foot- 
man said he was escorting the Marquise and 
Loulou on their usual five minutes constitutional 
by the side of the carriage when Loulou suddenly 
began to sniff furiously in all directions and can- 


tered off with such a speed through the bushes 
that he was lost sight of at once. The Marquise 
had been put back in the carriage by her maid 
in a fainting condition, he himself had been 
hunting for Loulou for half-an-hour while the 
coachman was driving up and down the high road 
asking every passer-by for news of Loulou. The 
Marquise burst into a flood of tears of joy when 
I deposited Loulou on her lap, still speechless 
for want of breath. He was going to have 
an apoplectic stroke, she sobbed, I roared into 
the ear trumpet that it was only emotion. The 
truth was that he was as near having a stroke as 
a fat old pug can be. Being the involuntary cause 
of it all, I accepted the invitation of his mistress 
to have tea with her. When Tom jumped 
on my lap, Loulou had a fit of rage that nearly 
suffocated him. The rest of the drive he lay 
motionless on his mistress' lap in a state of com- 
plete collapse, glaring savagely at Tom with one 
eye and blinking affectionately at me with the 

" I have smelt many things in my life," said the 
eye, " but I have never forgotten your own most 
particular smell, I like it much better than the 
smell of anybody else. What a joy to have found 
you at last! Do take me on your lap instead of 
that black mongrel. No fear, I shall settle his 
account as soon I get a breath of air! " 

"Never mind what you say, snub-nosed little 
monster," said Tom loftily. "I never saw such 
a sight, it almost makes one ashamed of being a 
dog! A champion poodle like me does not growl 
at a sausage, but you had better hold your black 


tongue lest It should drop out of your ugly moutfc 

After our second cup of tea Monsieur FAbbe 
entered the drawing-room for his usual afternoon 
call. The kind Abbe reproached me for not hav- 
ing let him know of my return to Paris. The 
Count had often enquired about me and would 
be delighted to see me. The Countess had gone 
to Monte Carlo for a change of air. The Countess 
was now in excellent health and spirits. Unfor- 
tunately he could not say the same in regard to 
the Count, who had returned to his sedentary life, 
spending the whole day in his armchair smoking 
his cigars. The Abbe thought he had better warn 
me that the Vicomte Maurice was furious with 
me for having played such a joke upon him at 
Chateau Rameaux. I had hypnotized both him 
and the little village doctor into the belief that 
he had colitis in order to prevent him from gain- 
ing the Gold Medal at the shooting competition 
of the Societe du Tir de France. The Abbe im- 
plored me to keep out of his way, he was known 
for his violent, uncontrollable temper, he was al- 
ways quarrelling with people, not later than a 
month ago he had fought another duel, God knows 
what might happen if we met. 

"Nothing would happen," said I. "I have 
nothing to fear from this brute, for he is afraid of 
me. I proved last autumn in the smoking-room 
of the Chateau Rameaux that I was the stronger 
of the two and I am glad to hear from you 
that he has not forgotten his lesson. His one 
superiority over me is that he can drop a swal- 
low or a skylark with his revolver at fifty yards 


while I should probably miss an elephant at the 
same distance. But he is not likely ever to take 
advantage of this superiority of his, he would 
never challenge me for he considers me his social 
inferior. You mentioned the word hypnotism, well 
I am getting sick of the very word, it is con- 
stantly thrown in my face because I have been a 
pupil of Charcot's. Understand once for all that 
all this nonsense about hypnotic power is an ex- 
ploded theory denied by modern science. It is 
not a case of hypnotism, it is a case of imagi- 
nation. This fool imagines that I have hypnotized 
him, it is not I who have put this silly idea in 
his head, he has done it all by himself, we call it 
autosuggestion. So much the better for me. It 
makes him powerless to harm me at least face to 

"But could you hypnotize him if you wanted 
to do so? " 

" Yes, easily, he is an excellent subject, Char- 
cot would be delighted to demonstrate fa' at his 
Tuesday lectures at the Salpetriere." 

" Since you say that there is no such thing as 
hypnotic power, do you mean to say that I for 
instance could make hurt obey my orders as he 
obeyed yours? " 

" Yes, granted he believed that you possessed this 
power, which he certainly does not believe." 

"Why not?" 

" The real difficulty begins here, a satisfactory 
answer to your question cannot be given to-day. 
This is a relatively new science, still in its infancy." 

" Could you make him commit a crime? " 

" Not unless he was capable of committing such 


a crime of his own initiative. Since I am con- 
vinced that this man has criminal instincts, the 
answer is in this particular case in the affirma- 

" Could you make him give up the Countess? " 

" Not unless he wished it himself and submitted 
to a methodic treatment by hypnotic suggestion. 
Even so it would take .considerable time, the 
sexual instinct being the strongest force in human 

"Promise me to keep out of his way, he says 
he is going to horsewhip you the first time he 
meets you." 

" He is welcome to try, I know how to deal 
with such an emergency, don't worry. I am quite 
capable of taking care of myself." 

" Luckily he is with his regiment at Tours and 
not likely to return to Paris for a long time." 

" My dear Abbe, you are far more naive than 
I thought, he is actually in Monte Carlo with the 
Countess and will be back in Paris when she re- 
turns from her change of air." 

The very next day I was asked to see the Count 
professionally. The Abbe was right, I found the 
Count in a very unsatisfactory condition both 
physically and mentally. You cannot do much for 
an elderly gentleman who sits in his armchair the 
whole day smoking endless cigars, thinking of 
nothing but his beautiful young wife who has 
gone to Monte Carlo for a change of air. Neither 
can you do much for him when she returns to re- 
sume her position as one of the most admired and 
coveted kdies of the Paris society, spending her 


days at Worth's trying on new gowns and her 
evenings at theatres and balls, after a frosty kiss 
of good-night on hep husband's cheek. The more 
I saw of the Count the more I liked him, he was 
the most perfect type of a French aristocrat of 
the old regime I had ever seen. The real reason 
why I liked him was no doubt because I felt sorry 
for him. It had not dawned upon me in those 
days that the only people I really liked were those 
I felt sorry for. I suppose that was why I did 
not like the Countess the first time I saw her again 
after our last' meeting under the lime tree in the 
park of the Chateau Rameaux when the moon 
was full and the owl saved me from liking her 
too much. No, I did not like her at all as I sat 
watching her by the side of the Abbe, across the 
dining-room table, laughing merrily at the silly 
jokes of Vicomte Maurice, some of them about 
myself, I gathered from his insolent side-glances. 
Neither of them said a single word to me. The 
only sign of recognition I had received from the 
Countess was an absent-minded hand-shake be- 
fore dinner. The Vicomte had ignored my pres- 
ence altogether. The Countess was as beautiful 
as ever but she was not the same woman. She 
looked in splendid health and spirits, the yearning 
expression in her large eyes was no more there. 
I saw at the first glance that there had been full 
moon in the park of Monte Carlo and no warning 
owls in the lime trees. The Vicomte Maurice 
looked exceedingly pleased with himself, there was 
an unmistakable air of the conquering hero in his 
whole bearing which was particularly irritating. 
" a y est," said I to the Abbe as we sat down 


in the smoking-room after dinner. " Surely love 
is blind, if this is to be called love. She deserved 
a better fate than to fall into the arms of this 
degenerate fool." 

" Do you know that it is not a month ago since 
the Count paid his gambling debts in order to 
save him from being cashiered from the army, there 
is also a rumour about a dishonoured cheque. 
They say he is spending fabulous sums on a fa- 
mous cocotte. To think that this is the man who 
is going to take the Countess to the Bal Masque 
of the Opera to-night." 
" I wish I could shoot." 

" For Heaven's sake do not speak like that, I 
wish you would go away, he is sure to come here 
for his brandy and soda." 

"He had better be careful with his brandies 
and sodas, did you not notice how his hand was 
trembling when he dropped his patent medicine 
into his wine-glass. At any rate it is a good 
omen for the swallows and the skylarks. Don't 
look so uneasily at the door, he is having a good 
time making love to the Countess in the drawing- 
room. I am besides going away, my carriage is 
at the door." 

I went upstairs to see the Count a moment 
before leaving, he was already going to bed, he 
said he was very sleepy, lucky man! As I was 
wishing him good-night I heard the desperate 
howling of a dog from below. I knew that Tom 
was waiting for me in the hall in his usual corner 
by a standing invitation from the Count who was 
a great lover of dogs and had even provided him 
with a special little carpet for his comfort. I 


sprang downstairs as fast as I could. Tom was 
lying huddling against the front door groaning 
feebly, blood was flowing from his mouth. Bent 
over him stood Vicomte Maurice kicking him 
furiously. I fell on the brute so unexpectedly 
that he lost his balance and rolled on the floor. 
A second well-aimed blow knocked him down 
again as he was springing to his feet. Snatching 
my hat and my coat I sprang with the dog in my 
arms to my carriage and drove full speed to 
Avenue de Villiers. It was evident from the first 
that the poor dog was suffering from severe in- 
ternal injuries. I sat up with him the whole night, 
his breathing became more and more difficult, the 
haemorrhage never ceased. In the morning I shot 
my faithful friend with my own hands to spare 
him further sufferings. 

It was a relief to me when I received in the 
afternoon a letter from two of Vicomte Maurice's 
fellow officers with a request to be put in com- 
munication with my seconds, the Vicomte having 
decided after some hesitation to do me the honour 
etc. etc. 

I succeeded with difficulty in persuading Colonel 
Staaff, the Swedish military attache, to see me 
through this business. My friend Edelfeld, the 
well-known Finnish painter, was to be my other 
second. Norstrom was to assist me as surgeon. 

"Never in my life have I had such luck as 
these last twenty-four hours," said I to Norstrom 
as we were sitting at dinner at our usual table in 
Cafe de la Regence. " To teU you the truth I 
terribly afraid that I was going to be afraid. 


Instead of that my curiosity, to know how I was 
going to face the music has occupied my thoughts 
so constantly, that I have had no time to think of 
anything else. You know how interested I am in 

Norstrom was evidently not in the least inter- 
ested in psychology that evening, besides he never 
was. He was unusually silent and solemn, I noticed 
a certain tender expression in his dull eyes which 
made me feel almost ashamed of myself. 

" Listen, Axel," he said in a somewhat husky 
voice, " listen. ..." 

" Don't look at me like that, and above all don't 
be sentimental, it doesn't suit your style of beauty. 
Scratch your silly old head and try to understand 
the situation. How can you imagine for a mo- 
ment that I should be such a fool as to face this 
savage to-morrow morning in the Bois de St. Cloud 
if I did not know that he cannot kill me. The 
idea is too absurd to be considered for a moment. 
These French duels are besides a mere farce, you 
know it as well as I do. We have both of us as- 
sisted as doctors at more than one of these per^ 
f ormances where the actors now and then hit a tree 
but never each other. Do let us have a bottle of 
Chambertin and go straight to bed, Burgundy 
makes me sleepy, I have hardly had any sleep since 
my poor dog died, I must sleep to-night at any 

The morning was cold and misty. My pulse 
was steady at eighty but I noticed a curious 
twitching in the calves of my legs and a con- 
siderable difficulty in speaking, and try as I might 


I did not succeed in swallowing the drop of brandy 
Norstrom handed me from his pocket flask as we 
stepped out from the carriage. The endless pre- 
liminary formalities seemed particularly irritating 
to me since I did not understand a word of what 
they were talking about. How silly all this is and 
what a waste of time, thought I, how much sim- 
pler would it not be to give him a sound thrashing 
a I'angldse and be done with it I Somebody said 
that the mist had now lifted sufficiently to allow 
a clear sight. I was surprised to hear it, for it 
seemed to me that the fog was thicker than ever. 
Still I could see quite well Vicomte Maurice stand- 
ing in front of me with his usual air of insolent 
nonchalance, a cigarette between his lips, very much 
at his ease, thought I. At that very moment a 
redbreast started singing from the thicket behind 
me, I was just wondering what on earth the little 
fellow had to do so late in the year in the Bois de 
St. Cloud, when Colonel Staaff put a long pistol in 
my hand. 

" Aim low! " he whispered. 

" Fire! " a sharp voice called out. 

I heard a shot. I saw the Vicomte letting fall 
his cigarette from his lips and Professor Labbe 
rushing up to him. A moment later I found my- 
self sitting in Colonel Staaff's carriage with NTor- 
strom on the opposite seat, a broad grin on his face. 
The Colonel patted me on the shoulder but nobody 

" What has happened, why didn't he shoot? I 
am not going to accept any mercy from this brute, 
I am going to challenge Km in my turn, I am 
going to. . . ." 


cc You are going to do nothing of the sort, you 
are going to thank God for your miraculous es- 
cape," interrupted the Colonel. " Indeed he tried 
his best to kill you and no doubt he would have 
done so had you given him time for a second shot. 
Luckily you fired simultaneously. Had you waited 
the fraction of a second you would not be sitting 
by my side now. Didn't you hear the bullet whizz- 
ing over your head? Look! " 

Suddenly as I looked at my hat the curtain went 
down over my performance as a hero. Stripped 
of his ill fitting make-up as a brave man, the real 
man appeared, the man who was afraid of death. 
Shaking with fear I sank back in my corner of the 

"I am proud of you, my young friend," the 
Colonel went on. " It did my old soldier's heart 
good to watch you, I could not have done it better 
myself! When we charged the Prussians at 
Gravelotte. . . ." 

The chattering of my teeth prevented me from 
catching the end of the sentence. I felt sick and 
faint, I wanted to tell Norstrom to let down the 
window for a breath of air but I could not articulate 
a word. I wanted to fling open the door and bolt 
like a rabbit but I could move neither arms nor 

" He was losing lots of blood," chuckled Nor- 
strom, " Professor Labbe said the bullet had passed 
clean through the base of the right lung, he will be 
a lucky man if he escapes with two months in 

The chattering of my teeth ceased instantly, I 
listened attentively. 


" I did not know you were such a fine shot," said 
the gallant colonel. "Why did you tell me you 
had never handled a pistol before? " 

Suddenly I burst into a roar of laughter, I did 
not in the least know why. 

" There is no cause for laughter," said the colonel 
sternly, " the man is dangerously wounded, Pro- 
fessor Labbe looked very grave, it may end in a 

" So much the worse for him," said I mirac- 
ulously regaining my power of speech, "he 
kicked my defenceless old dog to death, he spends 
his leisure hours killing swallows and skylarks, he 
deserves all he gets. Do you know that the 
Areopagus of Athens pronounced a death sentence 
on a boy for having stung out the eyes of a 
bird? " 

" But you are not the Areopagus of Athens." 

" No, but neither am I am the cause of this man's 
death if it comes to the worst. I had not even 
time to take aim at him, the pistol went off all by 
itself. It was not I who sent this bullet through 
his lung, it was somebody else. Besides, since you 
are so sorry for this brute, may I ask if it was in 
order to miss him that you whispered in my ear to 
aim low when you handed me the pistol? " 

" I am glad to hear you have got your tongue 
back in its right place, you old swaggerer," smiled 
the colonel. " I could hardly understand a word 
you said when I dragged you into my carriage nor 
did you yourself, I am sure, you went on muttering 
the whole time something about a redbreast." 

When we entered Porte Maillot I had already 
resumed full command over my silly nerves and 


was feeling very pleased with myself. As we 
approached Avenue de Villiers Mamsell Agata's 
Medusa face loomed out of the morning mist, 
staring menacingly at me with her white eyes. I 
looked at my watch, it was half -past seven, my 
courage rose* 

" She is just now rubbing the patina off the 
refectory table in the dining-room," thought I. 
" Another bit of luck and I shall manage to slink 
unnoticed into my bedroom and signal to Rosalie 
to bring me my cup of tea." 

Rosalie came on tiptoe with my breakfast and 
my * Figaro.' 

" Rosalie, you are a brick! For Heaven's sake 
keep her out of the hall, I mean to slip out in half- 
an-hour. Good Rosalie, just give me a brush-up 
before you go, I need it badly." 

" But really Monsieur cannot go about visiting 
his patients in this old hat, look! there is a round 
hole in front and here is another behind, how 
funny! It cannot be made by a moth, the whole 
house is stinking with naphthaline ever since 
Mamsell Agata came. Can it be a rat? Mamsell 
Agata's room is full of rats, Mamsell Agata likes 

" No, Rosalie, it is the death-watch beetle, it has 
got teeth as hard as steel and can make just such a 
hole in a man's skull as well as in his hat, if luck 
is not on his side." 

"Why does not Monsieur give the hat to 
old Don Gaetano, the organ grinder, it is his 
day for coming and playing under the balcony 

" You are welcome to give him any hat you like 


but not this one, I mean to keep it, it does me good 
to look at those two holes, it means luck." 

" Why does not Monsieur go about in a top hat 
like the other doctors, it is much more chic." 

" It is not the hat that makes the man but the 
head. My head is all right as long as you keep 
Mamsell Agata out of my sight/* 



I SAT down to my breakfast and my ' Figaro.' 
Nothing very interesting. Suddenly my eyes 
fell on the following notice under the big headlines : 

"Madame Requin, sage-femme de premiere classe, Rue 
Granet, has been arrested in connection with the death of a 
young girl under suspicions circumstances. There is also an 
order of arrest against a foreign doctor who has it is feared 
already left the country. Madame Requin is also accused for 
having caused the disappearance of a number of new-born 
children confided to her care." 

The paper fell from my hand. Madame Requin, 
sage-femme de premiere classe, Rue Granet! I 
had been surrounded with so much suffering, so 
many tragedies had been enacted before my eyes 
during these last years that I had forgotten the 
whole affair. As I sat there staring at the notice 
in the * Figaro * it all came back to me as vividly 
as had it happened*yesterday instead of three years 
ago, the dreadful night when I had made the ac- 
quaintance of Madame Requin. As I sat sipping 
my tea and reading the notice in the ' Figaro 9 over 
and over again, I felt greatly pleased to know that 
this horrible woman had been caught at last. I 
felt equally pleased at the recollection that in that 
unforgettable night it had been granted to me to 



save two lives, the life of a mother and the life of a 
child from being murdered by her and her ignoble 
accomplice. Suddenly another thought flashed 
through my head. What had I done for these two 
lives I had caused to live? What had I done for 
this mother already abandoned by another man in 
the hour she needed him most? 

"John! Johnl" she had called out under 
the chloroform with a ring of despair. "John! 

Had I done better than he? Had not I also 
abandoned her in the hour she needed me most? 
What agonies must she not have gone through be- 
fore she fell in the hands of this terrible woman and 
this brutal colleague of mine, who would have mur- 
dered her had it not been for me? What agonies 
had she not gone through when her awakening con- 
sciousness brought her back to the ghastly reality 
of her surroundings. And the half-asphyxiated 
child who had looked at me with his blue eyes as 
he drew his first breath with the life-giving air I 
had breathed into his lungs, my lips to his lips! 
What had I done for him? I had snatched him 
from the arms of merciful death to throw him in 
the arms of Madame R&juin! How many new- 
born babies had not already sucked death from her 
enormous bosom? What had she done with the 
blue-eyed little boy? Was he among the eighty per 
cent of the helpless little travellers in the * train des 
nourrices * who according to official statistics suc-^ 
cumbed during the first year of their life, or among 
the remaining twenty per cent who survived to per- 
haps an even worse fate? 

An hour later I had applied and obtained from 

250 JOHN 

the prison authorities the permission to visit Ma- 
dame Requin. She recognized me at once and gave 
me such a warm welcome that I felt very uncom- 
fortable indeed before the prison official who had 
accompanied me to her cell. 

The boy was in Normandy and very happy, she 
had just received excellent news about him from 
his foster parents who loved him tenderly. Unfor- 
tunately she could not lay her hands on their ad- 
dress, there had been some confusion in her register. 
It was just possible though not likely, that her hus- 
band might remember their address. 

I felt sure the boy was dead but to leave nothing 
undone I said sternly that unless I received the 
address of the foster parents in forty-eight hours 
I would denounce her to the authorities for child 
murder and also for the theft of a valuable diamond 
brooch left in her custody by me. She managed to 
squeeze a few tears from her cold glittering eyes 
and swore that she had not stolen the brooch, she 
had kept it as a souvenir from this lovely young 
lady whom she had nursed as tenderly as if she had 
been her own daughter. 

" You have forty-eight hours," said I, leaving 
Madame Requin to her meditations. 

The morning of the second day I received the 
visit of Madame Requin's worthy husband with the 
pawn ticket of the brooch and the names of three 
villages in Normandy where Madame used to dis- 
patch her babies that year. I wrote at once to the 
three maires of the respective villages with a request 
to find out if a blue-eyed boy about three years old 
were among the adoptive children in their villages. 
After a long delay I received negative answers 


from two of the maires, no answer from the third* 
I then wrote to the three cures of these villages and 
after months of waiting the cure of Villeroy in- 
formed me that he had discovered with a shoe- 
maker's wife a little boy who might answer to my 
description. He had arrived from Paris three years 
ago and certainly he had blue eyes. 

I had never been in Normandy, it was Christmas 
time and I thought I deserved a little holiday. It 
was actually on Christmas day I knocked at the 
door of the shoemaker. No answer. I entered a 
dusky room with the shoemaker's low table by the 
window, muddy and worn-out boots and shoes of 
all sizes strewn over the floor, some newly washed 
shirts and petticoats were hanging to dry on a 
rope across the ceiling. The bed had not been 
made up, the sheets and the blankets looked in- 
describably dirty. On the stone floor of the evil- 
smelling kitchen sat a half-naked little child eating 
a raw potato. He gave me a terrified look from 
his blue eyes, dropped his potato, lifted instinctive- 
ly his emaciated arm as if to avoid a blow and 
crawled as fast as he could into the other room. 
I caught him up just as he was creeping under 
the bed and sat down at the shoemaker's table by 
the window to examine his teeth. Yes, the boy was 
about three years and a half I should say, a little 
skeleton with emaciated ajms and legs, a narrow 
chest and a stomach blown up to twice its proper 
size. He sat absolutely still on my lap, he did not 
utter a sound even when I opened his mouth to 
examine his teeth. There was no doubt about the 
colour of his tired joyless eyes, they were as blue 
as my own. The door was flung open and with a 

252 JOHN 

terrific curse the shoemaker reeled into the room 
blind drunk. Behind him in the open door stood a 
woman with a baby at her breast and two small 
children hanging on to her skirt, staring stupefied 
at me. The shoemaker said he was damned glad 
to get rid of the boy, but he -must have the overdue 
money paid down first. He had written several 
times to Madame Requin but had had no answer. 
Did she think he was going to feed that wretched 
marmot with his own hard earnings? His wife 
said that now since she had a child of her own and 
two other children en pension she was only too glad 
to get rid of the boy. She muttered something to 
the shoemaker and their eyes wandered attentively 
from my face to that of the boy. The same terri- 
fied look had come back in the boy's eyes as soon 
they had entered the room, his little hand I was 
holding in mine was trembling slightly. Luckily 
I had remembered in time it was Christmas and I 
produced a wooden horse from my pocket. He 
took it in silence, in an uninterested sort of way 
quite unlike that of a child, he did not seem to care 
much for it. 

"Look," said the shoemaker's wife, "what a 
beautiful horse your papa has brought you from 
Paris, look, Jules! " 

" His name is John/ 5 said I. 

^"C'est un triste enfant," said the shoemaker's 
wife, " he never says anything, not even c mama/ 
he never smiles-" 

I wrapped him up in my travelling rug and went 
to see Monsieur le Cure who was kind enough to 
send his housekeeper to buy a woollen shirt and a 
warm shawl for our journey. 


The Cure looked at me attentively and said: 
" It is my duty as a priest to condemn and chas- 
tize immorality and vice, but I cannot refrain from 
telling you, my young friend, that I respect you 
for trying at least to atone for your sin, a sin so 
much the more heinous as the punishment falls on 
the heads of innocent little children. It was high 
time to take him away, I have buried dozens of 
these poor abandoned little babies and I would have 
buried your boy as well ere long. You have done 
well, I thank you for it," said the old cure tapping 
me on the shoulder. 

We were just on the point of missing the night 
express for Paris, there was no time for explana- 
tions. John slept peacefully the whole night well 
wrapped in his warm shawl while I sat by his side 
wondering what on earth I was going to do with 
him. I really believe that had it not been for 
Mamsell Agata I would have taken him straight 
from the station to Avenue de Villiers. I drove 
instead to the Creche St. Joseph in Rue de Seine, 
I knew the nuns well. They promised to keep 
the boy for twenty-four hours till a suitable home 
had been found for him. The nuns knew of a 
respectable family, the husband was working in 
the Norwegian margarine factory in Pantin, they 
had just lost their only child. The idea suited me, 
I drove there at once and the next day the boy 
was installed in his new home- The woman seemed 
clever and capable, somewhat quick tempered I 
should have thought f roin the look of her eyes, but 
the nuns had told me she had been a devoted mother 
to her own child. She was given the money needed 
for his outfit and paid three months in advance, 

254 JOHN 

less than I spend on my cigarettes. I preferred not 
to give her my address, God knows what would 
have happened if Mamsell Agata had got to know 
of his existence. Josephine was to report to the 
nuns if anything went wrong or if the child got ill. 
It did not take long before she had to report. The 
boy caught scarlet fever and nearly died. All the 
Scandinavian children in the Pantin quarter were 
down with scarlet fever, I had to go there con- 
stantly. Children with scarlet fever need no medi- 
cine, only careful nursing and a toy for their long 
convalescence. John got both, for his new foster 
mother was evidently very kind to him and I had 
long ago learned to include dolls and wooden horses 
in my pharmacopoeia. 

"He is a strange child/* said Josephine, "he 
never says even "mama/ he never smiles, not 
even when he got the Father Christmas you sent 

For it was Christmas once more, the boy had 
been with his new foster mother a whole year, of 
toil and worries for me but relative happiness for 
him. Josephine was certainly hot-tempered, often 
impertinent to me when I had to scold her for not 
keeping the boy tidy or for never opening the win- 
dow. But I never heard her say a rough word to 
him, and although I do not think he cared for her 
I could see by his eyes that he was not afraid of 
her. He seemed strangely indifferent to everybody 
and everything. Gradually I became more and 
more uneasy about him and more dissatisfied with 
his foster mother. The boy had got back that fright- 
ened look in his eyes, and it was evident that Jo- 
sephine was neglecting him more and more. I had 


several rows with her, it generally ended by her 
saying angrily that if I was not satisfied I had 
better take him away, she had had more than enough 
of him. I well understood the reason, she was to 
become a mother herself. It got much worse after 
the birth of her own child, I told her at last that I 
was determined to take the boy away as soon as I 
had found the right place for him. Warned by 
experience I was determined there should be no 
more mistakes about him. 

A couple of days later in coming home for my 
consultation I heard as I opened the front door 
the angry voice of a woman resounding from my 
waiting-room. The room was full of people wait- 
ing with their usual patience to see me. John sat 
huddled up in the corner of the sofa next to the 
wife of the English parson. In the middle of the 
room stood Josephine talking at the top of her voice 
and gesticulating wildly. As soon as she saw me in 
the doorway she rushed to the sofa, took hold of 
John and literally threw him at me, I had barely 
time to catch him in my arms. 

" Of course I'm not good enough to look after a 
young gentleman like you, Master John! " shouted 
Josephine, " you'd better stay with the doctor, I've 
had enough of his scoldings and all his lies about 
your being an orphan. One has only to look at 
your eyes to see who is your father! " She lifted 
the portiere to rush out of the room and nearly fell 
over Mamsell Agata who shot me a glance from 
her white eyes that riveted me to the spot. The 
parson's wife rose from the sofa and walked out of 
the room lifting her skirts as she passed before me. 

256 JOHN 

" Kindly take this boy to the dining-room and re- 
main there with him till I come," said I to Mamsell 
Agata. She stretched out her arms in horror in 
front of her as if to protect herself against some- 
thing unclean, the slit under her hook nose parted 
in a terrible smile and she vanished in the wake of 
the parson's wife. 

I sat down at my luncheon, gave John an apple 
and rang for Rosalie. 

" Rosalie," said I, " take this money, go and get 
yourself a cotton dress, a couple of white aprons 
and whatever else you need to look respectable. 
From to-day you are promoted to be a nurse to 
this child. He will sleep in my room to-night, from 
to-morrow you are to sleep with him in Mamsell 
Agata's room." 

" But Mamsell Agata? " asked Rosalie terror- 

" Mamsell Agata will be dismissed by me when 
I have finished my luncheon." 

I sent away my patients and went to knock at 
her room. Twice I raised my hand to knock, twice 
I let it fall. I did not knock. I decided it was 
wiser to postpone the interview till after dinner 
when my nerves had cooled down a little. Mamsell 
Agata was invisible. Rosalie produced an excellent 
pot-au-f eu for dinner and a milk pudding which I 
shared with John all Frenchwomen of her class 
are good cooks. After a couple of extra glasses of 
wine to cool my nerves I went to knock at Mam- 
sell Agata's room still trembling with rage. I did 
not knock. It suddenly dawned upon me that it 
would cost me my night's sleep if I had a row with 
her now, and sleep was what I needed more than 


ever. Much better postpone the interview till to- 
morrow morning. 

While I was having my hreakf ast I came to the 
conclusion that the proper thing would be to give 
her notice in writing. I sat down to write her a 
thundering letter but hardly had I begun when 
Rosalie brought me a note in the small sharp hand- 
writing of Mamsell Agata saying that no decent 
person could remain a day longer in my house, 
that she was leaving for good this same afternoon 
and that she never wanted to see me again the 
very words I had hoped to say to her in my letter. 

The invisible presence of Mamsell Agata still 
haunting the house I went down to Le Printemps 
to get a cot for John and a rocking-horse as a 
reward for what I owed him. The cook came back 
the next day happy and content. Rosalie was 
beaming with joy, even John seemed pleased with 
his new surroundings when I went to have a look 
at him in the evening in his snug little bed. I my- 
self felt happy as a schoolboy on his holidays. 

But as to holidays there wasn't much of them. 
I was hard at work from morning till night with 
my patients and not seldom also with the patients 
of some of my colleagues who were beginning to 
call me in consultation to share their responsibility 
greatly to my surprise for even then I seemed 
never to be afraid of responsibility. I discovered 
later in my life that this was one of the secrets of 
my success. Another secret of my success was of 
course my constant luck, more striking than ever 
before, so much so that I was beginning to think 
that I had got a mascot in the house- I even began 

258 JOHN 

to sleep better since I had taken to have a look at 
the little boy asleep in his cot before I went to 

I had been chucked by the wife of the English 
parson, but plenty of her compatriots were taking 
her place on the sofa in my waiting-room. Such 
was the lustre that surrounded the name of Profes- 
sor Charcot that some of its light reflected itself 
even upon the smallest satellites around him. Eng- 
lish people seemed to believe that their own doctors 
knew less about nervous diseases than their French 
colleagues. They may have been right or wrong 
in this, but it was good luck for me in any case. 
I was even called to London for a consultation just 
then. No wonder I was pleased and determined 
to do my best. I did not know the patient but I 
had been exceptionally lucky with another member 
of her family which, no doubt, was the cause of 
my being summoned to her. It was a bad case, 
a desperate case according to my two English col- 
leagues, who stood by the bedside watching me with 
gloomy faces while I examined their patient. Their 
pessimism had infected the whole house, the pa- 
tient's will to recover was paralysed by despondency 
and fear of death. It is very probable that my two 
colleagues knew their pathology far better than I. 
But I knew something they evidently did not know : 
that there is no drug as powerful as hope, that the 
slightest sign of pessimism in the face or words of 
a doctor can cost his patient his life. Without 
entering into medical details it is enough to say 
that as a result of my examination I was convinced 
that her gravest symptoms derived from nervous 
disorders and mental apathy. My two colleagues 


watched me with a shrug of their broad shoulders 
while I laid my hand on her forehead and said in 
a calm voice that she needed no morphia for the 
night. She would sleep well anyhow, she would 
feel much better in the morning, she would be out 
of danger before I left London the following day. 
A few minutes later she was fast asleep, during 
the night the temperature dropped almost too rap- 
idly to my taste, the pulse steadied itself, in the 
morning she smiled at me and said she felt much 

Her mother implored me to remain a day longer 
in London, to see her sister-in-law, they were all 
very worried about her. The colonel, her husband, 
wanted her to consult a nerve specialist, she herself 
had tried in vain to make her see Doctor Phillips, 
she felt sure she would be all right if she only had 
a child. Unfortunately she had an inexplicable 
dislike of doctors, and would certainly refuse to 
consult me, but it might be arranged that I should 
sit next her at dinner so as at least to form an 
opinion of her case. Maybe Charcot could do some- 
thing for her? Her husband adored her, she had 
everything life could give, a beautiful house in 
Grosvenor Square, one of the finest old country 
seats in Kent. They had just returned from a long 
cruise to India in their yacht. She never had any 
rest, was always wandering about from place to 
place as if in search of something. There was a 
haunting expression of profound sadness in her 
eyes. Formerly she had been interested in art, she 
painted beautifully, she had even spent a winter 
in Julien's atelier in Paris. Now she took interest 
in nothing, cared for nothing, yes, she was inter- 

260 JOHN 

ested in children's welfare, she was a large sub- 
scriber to their summer holidays' fund and their 

I consented reluctantly to remain, I was anxious 
to return to Paris, I was worrying about John's 
cough. My hostess had forgotten to tell me that 
her sister-in-law, who sat by my side during dinner, 
was one of the most beautiful women I had ever 
seen. I was also much struck with the sad expres- 
sion in her magnificent, dark eyes. There was some- 
thing lifeless in her whole face. She seemed bored 
with iny company and took little trouble to conceal 
it. I told her there were some good pictures in the 
Salon that year, that I had heard from her sister-in- 
law that she had been an artist student in Julien's 
atelier. Had she met Marie Baschkirzeff there? 
No, she had not, but had heard about her. 

Yes, everybody had. " Moussia " was spending 
most of her time in advertising herself. I knew her 
very well, she was one of the cleverest young per- 
sons I had ever met but she had little heart, she was 
above all a poseuse, incapable of loving anybody but 
herself. My companion looked more bored than 
ever. Hoping for better luck I told her I had spent 
the afternoon in the children's hospital in Chelsea, 
it had been a revelation to me who was a frequent 
visitor to the Hopital des Enf ants Trouves in Paris. 

She said she thought our children's hospitals were 
very good. 

I told her it was not so, that the mortality 
amongst French children inside and outside the 
hospitals was frightful. I told her about the thou- 
sands of abandoned babies dumped on the provinces 
in the train des nourrices. 


She looked at me for the first time with her sad 
eyes, the hard lifeless expression in her face was 
gone, I said to myself she was perhaps a kind- 
hearted woman after all. In saying good-bye to 
my hostess I told her that it was not a case for me 
nor for Charcot himself, Doctor Phillips was the 
man, her sister-in-law would be all right when she 
had a baby. 

John seemed pleased to see me but he looked 
pale and thin as he sat by my side at the luncheon 
table. Rosalie said he coughed a lot in the night. 
There was a slight rise in the temperature in the 
evening and he was kept in bed for a couple of 
days. Soon he resumed the daily routine of his 
little life, assisted in his usual grave silence at my 
luncheon and was taken in the afternoon to Pare 
Monceau by Rosalie. One day, a couple of weeks 
after my return from London I was surprised to 
find the colonel sitting in my waiting-room. His 
wife had changed her mind, and wanted to come 
to Paris for some shopping, they were to join the 
yacht next week at Marseilles for a cruise in the 
Mediterranean. I was invited to lunch at the 
Hotel du Rhin the next day, Ms wife would be 
very pleased if I would take her to visit one of the 
children's hospitals after luncheon. As I could 
not lunch, it was arranged that she should fetch 
me at Avenue de Villiers after my consultation. 
My waiting-room was still full of people when her 
elegant landau drove up before the door. I sent 
down Rosalie to ask her to go for a drive and 
come back in half-an-hour, unless she preferred 
to wait in the dining-room till I had finished with 
my patients. Half-an-hour later I found her sit- 

262 JOHN 

ting in the dining-room with John on her lap 
greatly interested in his demonstration of his vari- 
ous toys. 

" He has got your eyes/' said she, looking from 
John to me, " I did not know you were married." 

I said I was not married. She blushed a little 
and resumed her perusal of John's new picture 
book. She soon picked up her courage and with 
the usual tenacious curiosity of a woman she asked 
if his mother was Swedish, his hair was so blonde, 
his eyes were so blue. 

I knew quite well what she was driving at. I 
knew that Rosalie, the concierge, the milkman, the 
baker were sure I was John's father, I had heard 
my own coachman speak about him as " le fils de 
Monsieur." I knew it was quite useless to explain, 
I would not have convinced them, I had besides 
ended by almost believing it myself. But I thought 
this kind lady had a right to know the truth. I 
told her laughingly I was no more his father than 
she was his mother, that he was an orphan with a 
very sad history. She had better not ask me, it 
would only give her pain. I drew back his sleeve 
and pointed to an ugly scar on his arm. He was all 
right now with Rosalie and me, but I should not 
be sure that he had forgotten the past until I had 
seen him smile. He never smiled. 

"It is true," she said gently. "He has not 
smiled a single time as other children do when they 
show their toys." 

I said we knew very little of the mentality of 
small children, we were strangers in the world they 
lived in. Only the instinct of a mother could now 
and then find its way among their thoughts. 


For all answer she bent her head over him and 
kissed him tenderly. John looked at her with great 
surprise in his blue eyes. 

" It is probably the first kiss he has ever had," 
said I. 

Rosalie appeared to take him for his usual after- 
noon walk in Pare Monceau, his new friend sug- 
gested taking him for a drive in her landau instead. 
I was delighted to get out of the projected visit to 
the hospital, I accepted with pleasure. 

From that day a new life began for John and I 
think also for somebody else. Every morning she 
came to his room with a new toy, every afternoon 
she drove him in her landau to the Bois de Boulogne 
with Rosalie in her best Sunday clothes on the back 
seat. Often he rode gravely on the top of a camel 
in Jardin d' Acclimatation surrounded by dozens of 
laughing children. 

" Do not bring him so many rich toys,** said I, 
" children like cheap toys just as well and there are 
so many who get none. I have often noticed that 
the humble doll a treize sous is always a great suc- 
cess even in the richest nurseries. When children 
learn to understand the money value of their toys 
they are driven out of their paradise, they cease to 
be children. John has besides already too many 
toys, it is time to teach him "to give away some of 
them to those who have none. It is a somewhat 
difficult lesson to learn for many children. The 
relative facility with which they learn this lesson is 
a safe index to foretell what sort of men and women 
they will become.** 

Rosalie told me that when they returned from 
their drive the beautiful lady always insisted on 

264 JOHN 

carrying John upstairs herself. Soon she remained 
to assist at his bath, and ere long it was she who 
gave him his bath, Rosalie's role being limited to 
handing her the bath towels. Rosalie told me some- 
thing that touched me very much. She told me 
that when the lady had dried his thin little body 
she always kissed the ugly scar on his arm before 
putting on his shirt. Soon it was she who put him 
to bed and remained with fa' till he had fallen 
asleep. I myself saw little of her, I was out the 
whole day, and I feared that the poor colonel did 
not see much of her either, she was spending her 
whole day with the boy. The colonel told me that 
the Mediterranean cruise had been abandoned. 
They were to remain in Paris he did not know for 
how long, nor did he care as long as his wife was 
happy, she had never been in a better mood than 
now. The colonel was right, the whole expression 
of her face had changed, an infinite tenderness shone 
in her dark eyes. 

The boy slept badly, often when I went to have 
a look at him before going to bed I thought his 
face looked flushed, Rosalie said he coughed a good 
deal in the night. One morning I heard the om- 
inous crepitation in the top of his right lung. I 
knew only too well what it meant. I had to tell 
his new friend, she said she already knew, she had 
probably known it before I did. I wanted to get 
a nurse to help Rosalie, but she would not hear of 
it. She implored me to take her as his nurse and 
I gave way. There was indeed nothing else to do, 
the boy seemed to fret even in his sleep as soon 
as she left the room. Rosalie went to sleep with 
the cook in the attics, the daughter of the duke 

NUBSE 265 

slept on the bed of the charwoman in John's room. 
A couple of days later he had a slight haemorrhage, 
the temperature rose in the evening, it became evi- 
dent that the course of the disease was going to be 

" He won't live long/' said Rosalie putting her 
handkerchief to her eyes, " he has already got the 
face of an angel." 

He liked to sit up for a while on the lap of his 
tender nurse while Rosalie was making up his bed 
for the night. I had always thought John an intel- 
ligent and sweet-looking child but I would never 
have called hi a beautiful child. As I looked at 
'him now the very features of his face seemed 
changed, his eyes seemed much larger and of a 
darker hue. He had become a beautiful child, beau- 
tiful as the Genius of Love or the Genius of Death. 
I looked at the two faces, cheek leaning against 
cheek. My eyes filled with wonder. Was it pos- 
sible that the infinite love that radiated from the 
heart of this woman towards this dying child could 
recast the soft outlines of his little face into a vague 
likeness to her own? Did I witness another un- 
dreamt-of mystery of life? Or was it Death, the 
great sculptor, already at work with masterly hand, 
to remould and refine the features of this child 
before closing his eyelids ? The same pure forehead, 
the same exquisite curve of the eyebrows, the same 
long eyelashes. Even the graceful moulding of the 
lips would be the same could I ever see him smile 
as I saw her smile the night when in his sleep he 
murmured for the first time the word all children 
love to say and all women love to hear, " Mama! 


She put him back to bed, he had a restless night, 
she never left his side. Towards morning his 
breathing seemed a little easier, he dozed off to 
sleep. I reminded her of her promise to obey me 
and forced her with difficulty to lie down on her 
bed for an hour, Rosalie would call her as soon as 
he woke up. When I returned to his room as dawn 
was breaking Rosalie, her finger on her lips, whis- 
pered that they were both asleep. 

" Look at him! " she whispered, " look at him! 
He is dreaming! " 

His face was still and serene, his lips were parted 
in a beautiful smile. I put my hand over his heart. 
He was dead. I looked from the smiling face of 
the boy to the face of the woman asleep on Rosalie's 
bed. The two faces were the same. 

She washed him and dressed him for the last 
time. Not even Rosalie was allowed to help her to 
lay him in his coffin. She sent her out twice in 
search of the right kind of pillow, she did not think 
his head looked comfortable. 

She implored me to postpone screwing on the 
lid till the next day. I told her she knew the bit- 
terness of Life, she knew little of the bitterness of 
Death, I was a doctor, I knew of both. I told her 
death had two faces, one beautiful and serene, an- 
other forbidding and terrible. The boy had parted 
from life with a smile on his lips, death woidd not 
leave it there for long. It was necessary to close 
the coffin to-night. She bent her head and said 
nothing. As I lifted the lid she sobbed and said 
she could not part with him and leave him all alone 
in the foreign cemetery. 

" Why part with him," said I, " why not take 


him with you, he weighs so little, why don't you 
take him to England in your yacht and bury him 
near your beautiful parish church in Kent? " 

She smiled through her tears, the same smile as 
the boy's smile. She sprang to her feet. 

" Can I? May I?" she called out almost with 


" It can be done, it shall be done if you let me 
screw on the lid now, there is no time to lose or he 
will be taken to the cemetery in Passy to-morrow 

As I lifted up the lid she laid a little bunch of 
violets close to his cheek. 

" I have nothing else to give him," she sobbed, 
" I wish I had something to give him to take with 
him from me! " 

" I think he would like to take this with him," 
said I taking the diamond brooch from my pocket 
and pinning it to his pillow. " It belonged to his 

She did not utter a sound, she stretched out her 
arms towards her child and fell senseless on the 
floor. I lifted her up and laid her on Rosalie's bed, 
screwed on the lid of the coffin and drove to the 
Bureau des Pompes Funebres in Place de la Made- 
leine. I had a private interview with the under- 
taker, alas, we had met before. I authorized him 
to spend any sum he liked if the coffin could be put 
on board an English yacht in the harbour of Calais 
the next night. He said it could be done if I prom- 
ised not to look at the bill. I said nobody would 
look at the bill. I then drove to the Hotel du 
Bhin, woke up the colonel and told him his wife 
wished the yacht to be in Calais in twelve hours. 

268 JOHN 

While he wrote out the telegram to the captain I 
sat down to write a hurried note to his wife that 
the coffin would be on board their yacht in Calais 
harbour the next night. I added in a postscript 
that I had to leave Paris early in the morning, and 
this was to bid her good-bye. 

I have seen John's grave, he lies buried in the 
little churchyard of one of the most beautiful parish 
churches in Kent. Primroses and violets were 
growing on his grave, and blackbirds were singing 
over his head. I have never seen his mother again. 
Better so. 


I THINK I have already told you something 
about the illness of the Swedish Consul, it 
happened just about that time, here is the story. 
The Consul was a nice, quiet little man with an 
American wife and two small children. I had 
been there in the afternoon. One of the children 
had a feverish cold but insisted on getting up for 
the festival home-coming of their father that same 
evening. The house was full of flowers and 
the children had been allowed to sit up for dinner 
in honour of the occasion. Their mother was 
very pleased to show me two most affectionate 
telegrams from her husband, one from Berlin, 
one from Cologne, announcing his return. They 
seemed to me somewhat long. At midnight I 
received an urgent message from his wife to come 
at once. The door was opened by the Consul 
himself in his night-shirt. He said that the 
dinner had been postponed to await the arrival 
of the King of Sweden and the President of the 
French Republic, who had just made him a 
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour. He had 
just bought Le Petit Trianon as summer resi- 
dence for his family. He was in a rage with his 
wife for not wearing the Marie Antoinette pearl 
necklace he had given her, called his little boy 



Le Dauphin and announced himself as Robes- 
pierre folie de grandeur! The children were 
screaming with terror in the nursery, his wife 
was prostrated with grief, his faithful dog lay 
under the table growling with fear. My poor 
friend suddenly got violent, I had to lock him 
up in the bedroom where he smashed everything 
and nearly succeeded in throwing us both through 
the window. In the morning he was taken to 
Doctor Blanche's asylum in Passy. The famous 
alienist suspected from the first general paralysis. 
Two months later the diagnosis was clear, the 
case was incurable. La Maison Blanche being 
very expensive, I decided to have him removed 
to the government asylum in Lund, a small 
town in the South of Sweden. Doctor Blanche 
was against it. He said it would be a risky 
and expensive undertaking, that his temporary 
lucidity was not to be trusted, that he must in 
any case be accompanied by two capable warders. 
I said the little money left must be saved for the 
children, the journey must be undertaken in the 
cheapest possible way, I was going to take him 
to Sweden alone. When I signed the papers for 
his release from the asylum, Doctor Blanche 
renewed his warnings in writing but of course I 
knew better. I drove him straight to Avenue 
de Villiers. He was quite calm and reasonable 
during dinner except that he tried to make love 
to Mamsell Agata, surely the only chance she 
had ever had. Two hours later we were locked 
up in a first class compartment in the night 
express for Cologne, there were no corridor trains 
in those da^s. I happened to be the doctor of 


one of the Rothschilds, the owners of the Chemin 
de Fer du Xord. Orders had been given to 
facilitate our journey in every way, the con- 
ductors were told to leave us undisturbed, my 
patient being apt to become agitated at the sight 
of a stranger. He was very quiet and docile and 
we both lay down on our couches to sleep. I 
was awakened by the grip of a madman round 
my throat, twice I knocked him down, twice he 
sprang at me again with the agility of a panther, 
he nearly succeeded in strangling me. The last 
thing I remember was dealing him a blow on his 
head which seemed to stun him. On entering 
Cologne in the morning we were found both lying 
unconscious on the floor of the compartment and 
taken to the Hotel du Nord, where we remained 
for twenty-four hours, each in his bed, in the 
same room. As I had to tell the doctor who 
came to stitch my wound he had nearly bitten 
off my ear the proprietor sent word that no 
lunatics were allowed in the hotel. I decided to 
go on to Hamburg with the morning train. He 
was very amiable the whole way to Hamburg, 
sang "La Marseillaise" as we drove through the 
town to the EM station. We embarked all right 
on the steamer to Korsuer at that time the 
quickest route between the continent and Sweden. 
A couple of miles off the Danish coast our steamer 
was blocked by pack ice driven down from the 
Cattegatt by a raging northern gale, a not very 
uncommon occurrence during a severe winter. 
We had to walk for over a mile on floating ice- 
flakes, my friend enjoyed it hugely, and were 
taken in open boats into Korsuer. As we were 


entering the harbour my friend jumped into the 
sea, I after him. We were picked up, and sat in 
an unheated train to Copenhagen, our clothes 
frozen to ice, the temperature 20 Centigrades 
below zero. The rest of the journey went re- 
markably well, the cold bath seemed to have 
done my friend a lot of good. One hour after 
the crossing to Malmo I handed over my friend 
in the railway station at Lund to two warders 
from the asylum. I drove to the hotel there 
was only one hotel in Lund in those days and 
ordered a room and breakfast. I was told I 
could have breakfast but no room, all the rooms 
being reserved for the theatrical company which 
was giving a gala performance in the Municipal 
Hall that same evening. While I was having 
my breakfast the waiter brought me with great 
pride the programme for the night's performance 
of * Hamlet/ a tragedy in five acts by William 
Shakespeare. Hamlet in Lund! I glanced at 
the programme: 

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Mr. Erik Carolus Malmborg. 

I stared at the programme, Erik Carolus 
Malmborg! Could it be possible that it was my 
old pal from the university days in Upsalal 
Erik Carolus Malmborg was to become a priest 
in those days. I had crammed him for his exams, 
had written his first proof sermon as well as his 
love-letters to his fiancee during a whole term. 
I had flogged him regularly every evening when 
he came home drunk to sleep in my spare room, 
he had been kicked out for disorderly conduct 
from his own lodgings. I had lost sight of him 


when I had left Sweden many years ago. I knew 
he had been sent down from the University and had 
gone from bad to worse. Suddenly I also remem- 
bered having heard that he had taken to the stage, 
-of course it must be my ill starred old friend who 
was the Hamlet of to-night! I sent my card to his 
room, he came like a shot overjoyed to see me after 
a, lapse of so many years. My friend told me a dis- 
tressing story. After a disastrous series of per- 
formances to empty houses in Malmo the company, 
decimated to one third of its members, had reached 
Loind the evening before for a last desperate battle 
against fate. Most of their costumes and portable 
belongings, the jewels of the queen mother, the 
crown of the king, Hamlet's own sword which he 
was to run through Polonius, even Yorick's skull 
had been seized by the creditors in Malmo. The 
king had got a sharp attack of sciatica and could 
neither walk nor sit on his throne, Ophelia had a 
fearful cold, the Ghost had got drunk at the fare- 
well supper in Malmo and missed the train. He 
himself was in magnificent form, Hamlet was his 
finest creation ft might have been expressly writ- 
ten for him. But how could he alone carry the 
immense burden of the five-act tragedy on his shoul- 
ders! All the tickets for the performance to-night 
were sold out, if they should have to return the 
money, complete collapse was inevitable. Perhaps 
I could lend him two hundred kronor for old friend- 
ship's sake? 

I rose to the occasion. I summoned a meeting 
of the leading stars of the company, instilled new 
"blood into their dejected hearts with several bottles 
of Swedish punch, curtailed ruthlessly the whole 


scene with the actors, the scene with the grave- 
diggers, the killing of Polonius, and announced 
that, ghost or no ghost, the performance was to 
take place. 

It was a memorable evening in the theatrical 
annals of Lund, Punctually at eight the curtain 
rose over the royal palace of Elsinore, as the crow 
flies not an hour's distance from where we were. 
The crowded house chiefly composed of boisterous 
undergraduates from the University proved less 
emotional than we had expected. The entrance of 
the Prince of Denmark passed off almost un- 
noticed, even his famous " To be or not to be " 
missed fire. The king limped painfully across the 
stage and sank down with a loud groan on his 
throne. Ophelia's cold had assumed terrific propor- 
tions. It was evident that Polonius could not see 
straight. It was the Ghost that saved the situation* 
The Ghost was I. As I advanced in ghost-like 
fashion on the moonlit ramparts of the castle of 
Elsinore, carefully groping my way over the huge 
packing-cases which formed its very backbone, the 
whole fabric suddenly collapsed and I was precip- 
itated up to the armpits in one of the packing-cases. 
What was a ghost expected to do in similar circum- 
stances? Should I duck my head and disappear 
altogether in the packing-case or should I remain 
as I was, awaiting further events? It was a nice 
question to settle! A third alternative was sug- 
gested to me by Hamlet himself in a hoarse whis- 
per: why the devil didn't I climb out of the infernal 
box? This was, however, beyond my power, my 
legs being entangled in coils of rope and all sorts of 
paraphernalia of stage craft. Bightly or wrongly 


I decided to remain where I was, ready for all 
emergency. My unexpected disappearance in the 
packing-case had been very sympathetically received 
by the audience, but it was nothing compared to the 
success when, with only my head popping out from 
the packing-case, I began again in a lugubrious 
voice my interrupted recital to Hamlet. The ap- 
plause became so frenetic that I had to acknowledge 
them with a friendly waving of my hand, I could 
not bow in the delicate position I was. This made 
them completely wild with delight, the applause 
never ceased tiU the end. When the curtain fell 
over the last act I appeared with the leading stars 
of the company to bow to the audience. They kept 
on shouting: " The Ghost! The Ghost! " so per- 
sistently that I had to come forth alone several 
times to receive their congratulations, with my hand 
on my heart. 

We were all delighted. My friend Malmborg 
said he had never had a more successful evening. 
We had a most animated midnight supper. Ophelia 
was charming to me and Hamlet raised his glass to 
my health offering me in the name of all his com- 
rades the leadership of the company. I said I 
would have to think it over. They all accompanied 
me to the station. Forty-eight hours later I was 
back to my work in Paris not in the least tired. 
Youth! Youth! 


\ LARGE number of foreign doctors were 
2\ practising in Paris in those days. There was 
a great jalousie de metier amongst them, of which 
I got my share and no wonder. Nor were we much 
liked by our French colleagues for our monopoly 
of the wealthy foreign colony, no doubt a far 
more lucrative clientele than their own. Of late 
an agitation had even been started in the press 
to protest against the steadily increasing number 
of foreign doctors in Paris, often, it was hinted, 
not even provided with regular diplomas from well 
recognized universities. It resulted in an order by 
the Pref et de Police that all foreign doctors were 
to present their diplomas for verification before 
the end of the month. I with my diploma as M.D. 
of the faculty of Paris was of course all right, I 
nearly forgot all about it and turned up the very 
last day at the Commissariat of my quartier. The 
Commissaire who knew me slightly, asked me if I 
knew a Doctor X. who lived in the same avenue 
as I did. I answered that all I knew about him 
was that he must have a very large practice, I 
had often heard his name mentioned, and I had 
often admired his elegant carriage waiting outside 
his house. 

The Commissaire said I would not have to 



admire it for long, he was on their black list, he 
had not presented himself with his diploma because 
he had none to present, he was a quack, he was 
going to be pinc at last He was said to be mak- 
ing two hundred thousand francs a year, more than 
many of the leading celebrities in Paris. I said 
there was no reason why a quack might not be a 
good doctor, a diploma meant little to his patients 
as long as he was able to help them. I heard the 
end of the story a couple of months later from the 
Commissaire himself. Doctor X. had presented 
himself at the very last moment with a request for 
a private interview with the Commissaire. Pre- 
senting his diploma as MJD. of a well-known Ger- 
man university, he implored the Commissaire to 
keep his secret, he said he owed his enormous prac- 
tice to the circumstance that he was considered by 
everybody to be a quack. I told the Commissaire 
this man would soon become a millionaire if he 
knew his medicine half as well as he knew his psy- 

As I was walking home I did not envy my 
colleague his two hundred thousand f ranes of in- 
come but I envied him for knowing what sum his 
income amounted to. I had always been longing 
to know what my earnings were. That I was 
making lots of money seemed certain, I had 
always plenty of cash whenever I wanted money 
for something. I had a fine apartment, a smart 
carriage, an excellent cook; now, since Mamsell 
Agata had left, I often had my friends at dinner 
at Avenue de Villiers with the best of everything. 
Twice I had rushed down to Capri, once to buy 
Mastro Vincenzo's house, another time to offer 


a high sum of money to the unknown owner of 
the ruined little chapel at San Michele it took 
me ten years to settle that business. Already 
then a keen lover of art, my rooms in Avenue de 
Villiers were full of treasures of bygone times, 
and over a dozen fine old clocks chimed every 
hour of my often sleepless nights. For some in- 
explicable reason these periods of wealth were 
not seldom interrupted by moments when I had 
no money at all. Rosalie knew it, the concierge 
knew it, even the fowrnisseurs knew it. Norstrom 
also knew it for I often had to borrow money 
from him. He said it could only be explained 
by some defect in my mental machinery, the 
remedy was to keep proper accounts and to send 
regular bills to my patients like everybody else. 
I said it was hopeless to try to keep accounts and 
as to writing bills I had never done it and was not 
going to do it. Our profession was not a trade 
but an art, this trafficking in suffering was a 
humiliation to me. I blushed scarlet when a 
patient put his twenty franc piece on my table 
and when he put it in my hand I felt as if I wanted 
to hit him. Norstrom said it was nothing but 
sheer vanity and conceit on my part, that I 
should grab all the money I could lay my hands 
on, as all my colleagues did, even if handed me 
by the undertaker. I said our profession was a 
holy office on the same level as that of the priest 
if not higher, where surplus money-making should 
be forbidden by law. The doctors should be paid 
by the State and well paid like the judges in 
England. Those who did not like this arrange- 
ment should leave the profession and go on the 


Stock Exchange or open a shop. The doctors 
should walk about like sages, honoured and pro- 
tected by all men. They should be welcome to 
take what they liked from their rich patients 
for their poor patients and for themselves, but 
they should not count their visits or write any 
bills. What was to the heart of the mother the 
value in cash of the life of her child you had 
saved? What was the proper fee for taking the 
fear of death out of a pair of terror-stricken eyes 
by a comforting word or a mere stroke of your 
hand? How many francs were you to charge 
for every second of the death-struggle your 
morphia syringe had snatched from the exe- 
cutioner? How long were we to dump on 
suffering mankind all these expensive patent 
medicines and drugs with modern labels but 
with roots sprung from medieval superstition? 
We well knew that our number of efficacious 
drugs could be counted on the ends of our fingers 
and were handed to us by benevolent Mother 
Nature at a cheap price. Why should I, who 
was a fashionable doctor, drive about in a smart 
carriage, while my colleague in the slums had to 
walk on foot? Why did the State spend many 
hundred times more money on teaching the art 
of killing than the art of healing? Why didn't 
we build more hospitals and fewer churches, you 
could pray to God everywhere but you could not 
operate in a gutter! Why did we build so many 
comfortable homes for professional murderers and 
housebreakers and so few for the homeless poor in 
the slums? Why shouldn't they be told that 
they should feed Hemselves? There is no man 


or woman who cannot even while shut up in 
prison earn his or her daily bread if given the 
choice between eating or not eating. We were 
constantly told that the majority of the prison 
population was made up from weak-minded, un- 
intelligent, more or less irresponsible individuals. 
This was a mistake. Their standard of intel- 
ligence was as a rule not below but above the 
average. All first offenders should be con- 
demned to a much shorter term of imprisonment 
on a very low diet combined with repeated and 
severe corporal punishments. They should make 
room for the fathers of abandoned and illegitimate 
children, and for the souteneurs now at large in 
our midst. Cruelty to helpless animals was to 
the eyes of God a far greater sin than house- 
breaking, it was only punished by a small fine. 
We all knew that excessive accumulation of 
wealth was, as often as not, a cleverly concealed 
theft from the poor. I had never come across a 
millionaire in prison. The trick of making money 
out of almost anything was a special gift of very 
doubtful moral value. The possessors of this 
faculty should only be tolerated to carry on, on 
the understanding that, as with the bees, a large 
slice of their golden combs should be distributed 
among those who have no honey to put on their 
daily bread. 

As to the rest of the prison population, the in- 
veterate criminals, the cold-blooded murderers 
etc. instead of spending a lifetime in relative 
comfort at a rate of expense exceeding the price 
of a permanent bed in a hospital, they should be 
given a painless death, not as punishment, for we 

FEES 281 

had no right either to judge or to punish, but for 
the sake of protection. England was right as usual. 
Even so these evil-doers had indeed no right to 
complain of being treated harshly by society. They 
were rewarded for their crimes with the greatest 
privilege that can be granted to living man, a 
privilege as a rule denied to their fellow creatures 
as a reward for their virtues that of a rapid 

Norstrom advised me to abandon reforming 
society he thought it was not in my line, and 
to stick to medicine. So far I had no right to 
complain of the result. He had however grave 
doubts as to the smooth working of my scheme 
to walk about as a sage among my patients 
exchanging my services for portable goods. He 
stuck to his belief that the old system of writing 
bills was safer. I said I was not so sure of that. 
Although it was true that some of my patients 
after a couple of unanswered letters asking for 
their bills went away without paying me anything 
it never happened with the English others as 
often as not sent me sums exceeding what I would 
have asked of them if I had sent a bill. Although 
the majority of my patients seemed to prefer to 
part with their money than with their goods, I 
had applied my system with success on several 
occasions. One of my most treasured possessions 
is an old Loden cape I once took from Miss C. 
the day she was leaving for America. As she 
was driving about with me in my carriage to gain 
time to say all she had to say about her eternal 
gratitude and her inability to repay all my kind- 
ness, I noticed an old Loden cape ov^r her back* 


It was the very thing I wanted. So I wrapped 
it over my knees and said I was going to keep it. 
She said she had bought it ten years ago in Salz- 
burg and was very fond of it. I said so was I. 
She suggested we should drive immediately to 
Old England, she would be delighted to present 
me with the most expensive Scotch cape to be 
had. I said I did not want any Scotch cape. I 
must tell you that Miss C. was a somewhat iras- 
cible lady who had given me lots of trouble for 
years. She got so angry that she jumped from 
the carriage without even saying good-bye, she 
sailed for America the next day. I have never seen 
her again. 

I also remember the case of Lady Maud B. 
who called on me in Avenue de Villiers before 
leaving for London. She said she had written 
in vain three times for her bill, I had placed her 
in a very embarrassing position, she did not 
know what to do. She was overwhelming in her 
praise of my skill and my kindness, money had 
nothing to do with her gratitude, all her posses- 
sions could not repay me for having saved her life. 
I thought it very nice to be told all this by such a 
charming young lady. As she spoke I was admir- 
ing her new dark red silk frock, and so was she 
with an occasional side-glance in the Venetian 
mirror over the mantelpiece. Looking atten- 
tively at her tall, slender figure I said I would 
take her frock, it was exactly what I wanted. 
She burst into a merry laugh soon changed into 
blank consternation when I announced that I 
would send Rosalie to her hotel at seven o'clock 


to fetch the frock. She rose to her feet pale 
with rage and said that she had never heard of 
such a thing. I said it was very likely. She had 
told me there was nothing she would not give me. 
I had chosen the frock for reasons of my own. 
She burst into tears and rushed out of the room. 
A week later I met the English Ambassador's 
wife at the Swedish Legation. This kind lady 
told me that she had not forgotten the consump- 
tive English governess I had recommended to her, 
she had even sent her an invitation to her garden- 
party for the English colony. 

" No doubt she looks very ill," said the ambas- 
sadress, "but surely she cannot be as poor as 
you say, I am sure she gets her clothes from 

I much resented Norstrom's saying that my 
inability to write bills and to pocket my fee with- 
out blushing derived from vanity and conceit. If 
Norstrom was right I must admit that all my 
colleagues seemed singularly free from this de- 
fect. They all sent their bills just as tailors do, 
and grabbed with greatest ease the louis d'or their 
patients put in their hands. In many consulting 
rooms it was even the etiquette that the patient 
should put his money on the table before opening 
his mouth to relate his woes. Before an operation 
it was the established rule that half of the sum 
should be paid in advance. I knew of a case where 
the patient was roused from the chloroform and 
the operation postponed in order to verify the 
validity of a cheque. When one of us smaller 
lights called in a celebrity for consultation, the 


big man put a slice of his fee in the hands of 
the small man as a matter of course. Nor did 
it stop there. I rememher my stupefaction the 
first time I called in a specialist for an embalm- 
ment when this man offered me five hundred francs 
from his fee. The charge for an embalmment was 
scandalously high. 

Many of the professors I used to consult in 
difficult cases were men of world-wide reputation, 
at the very top of the tree in their 'speciality, 
extraordinarily exact and amazingly quick in their 
diagnosis. Charcot for instance was almost un- 
canny in the way he went straight to the root of 
the evil, often apparently only after a rapid glance 
at the patient from his cold eagle eyes. During 
the last years of his life maybe he relied too much 
upon his eye, the examination of his patients was 
often far too rapid and superficial. He never ad- 
mitted a mistake and woe to the man who ever 
dared to hint at his being in the wrong. On the 
other hand he was surprisingly reserved before 
pronouncing a fatal prognosis, even in clearly 
hopeless cases. L'imprevu est toujours possible, 
he used to say. Charcot was the most celebrated 
doctor of his time. Patients from all over the 
world flocked to his consulting room in Faubourg 
St. Germain often waiting for weeks before being 
admitted to the inner sanctuary where he sat by 
the window in his huge library. Short of stature, 
with the chest of an athlete and the neck of a bull, 
he was a most imposing man to look at. A white 
dean shaven face, a low forehead, cold penetrat- 
ing eyes, an aquiline nose, sensitive cruel lips, the 
mask of a Roman Emperor. When he was 


angry, the flash in his eyes was terrible like light- 
ning, nobody who has ever faced those eyes is 
likely to forget them. His voice was imperative, 
hard, often sarcastic. The grip of his small, flabby 
hand was unpleasant. He had few friends amongst 
his colleagues, he was feared by his patients and 
his assistants for whom he seldom had a kind word 
of encouragement in exchange for the superhuman 
amount of work he imposed upon them. He was 
indifferent to the sufferings of his patients, he took 
little interest in them from the day of establishing 
the diagnosis until the day of the post-mortem 
examination. Among his assistants he had his 
favourites whom he often pushed forward to priv- 
ileged positions far above their merits. A word 
of recommendation from Charcot was enough to 
decide the result of any examination or concours, 
in fact he ruled supreme over the whole faculty of 

Sharing the fate of all nerve specialists he was 
surrounded by a bodyguard of neurotic ladies, 
hero-worshippers at all costs* Luckily for him he 
was absolutely indifferent to women. His only 
relaxation from his incessant toil was music. No- 
body was allowed to speak a word about medicine 
on his Thursday evenings all devoted to music. 
Beethoven was his favourite. He was very fond 
of animals, every morning as he descended heavily 
from his landau in the inner court of Salp&triere 
he produced from his pocket a piece of bread for 
his two old Rosinantes. He always cut short any 
conversation about sport and Trilling animals. His 
dislike of the English derived, I think, from his 
hatred of fox hunting. 


Professor Potain shared with Charcot the po- 
sition of the greatest medical celebrity in Paris 
in those days. There never were two people more 
unlike one another than these two great doctors. 
The famous clinicien of Hopital Necker was a 
very plain, insignificant-looking man, who would 
have passed unnoticed in a crowd where the head 
of Charcot would have been singled out among 
thousands. Compared to his illustrious confrere, 
he looked almost shabby in his ill fitting old 
frockcoat. His features were dull, his words few 
and spoken as if with great difficulty. He was 
beloved like a god by all his patients, rich and 
poor seemed exactly the same to him. He knew 
the name of every single patient in his enormous 
hospital, patted them young and old on their cheek, 
listened with infinite patience to their tales of woe, 
often paid from his own pocket for extra dainties 
for their tired palates. He examined his poorest 
hospital patients with the same extreme attention 
as his royalties and millionaires, he had plenty of 
both. No sign of disorder of lungs or heart how- 
ever obscure seemed to escape his phenomenally 
acute ear. I do not believe there ever was a man 
who knew more of what goes on in the breast of 
another man than he did. What little I know of 
diseases of the heart I owe to him. Professor 
Potain and Gueneau de Mussy were almost the 
only two consulting doctors I dared to turn to 
when in need of advice for a penniless patient. 
Professor Tillaux the famous surgeon was the 
third. His clinic in Hotel Dieu was run on the 
same lines as Potain's in Hopital Necker, he was 
like a father to all his patients, the poorer they 


looked the more interest he seemed to take in 
their welfare. As a teacher he was the best I 
have ever seen, his hook on 'Anatomie Topo- 
graphique * is moreover the best book ever written 
on the subject. He was a wonderful operator and 
always did all the dressing himself. There was 
something almost northern about this man with 
his straight simple manners and his blue eyes, he 
was in fact a Breton. He was extraordinarily 
kind and patient with me and my many short- 
comings, that I did not become a good surgeon is 
certainly not his fault. As it is, I owe him a lot, 
I am convinced I even owe him that I can still 
walk about on my two legs. I think I had better 

tell you this story here in parenthesis. 
# * * 

I had been working very hard during the long, 
hot summer without a single day of rest, harassed 
by insomnia and its usual companion, despondency* 
I was irritable with my patients, ill tempered with 
everybody, and when autumn came even my 
phlegmatic friend Norstrom began to lose his pa- 
tience with me. At last he informed me one day 
we were dining together that unless I went away 
at once for a three weeks rest cure in a cool place, 
I should go to pieces altogether. Capri was too 
hot, Switzerland was the right place for me. I 
had always bowed to my friend's superior common- 
sense. I knew he was right although his premises 
were wrong. It was not overwork but something 
else that had reduced me into such lamentable con- 
ditions; but don't let us talk about that here. 
Three days later I arrived in Zennatt and set to 
work at once to find out whether life above the 


snow-line was more cheerful than below it. The 
ice-axe became a new toy to me to play with in 
the old game of lose and win between life and 
death. I began where most other climbers end, 
with the Matterhorn. Roped to the ice-axe on a 
slanting rock twice the size of my dining-room 
table, I spent the night under the shoulder of the 
angry mountain in a raging snow-storm. I was 
interested to learn from my two guides that we 
were hanging on to the very rock from where 
Hadow, Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas and 
Michel Croz were hurled down on to the Matter- 
horn glacier four thousand feet below during 
Whymper's first ascent. At daybreak we came 
upon Burckhardt. I scratched the fresh snow 
from his face, peaceful and still as that of a man 
asleep. He had frozen to death. At the foot of 
the mountain we overtook his two guides drag- 
ging between them his half-dazed companion, 
Davies, whose life they had saved at the peril of 
their own. 

Two days later the Schreckhorn, the sullen giant, 
hurled his usual avalanche of loose rocks against 
the intruders. He missed us, but it was a fine 
shot anyhow at such a distance, a piece of rock 
that would have smashed a cathedral thundered 
past us at a distance of less than twenty yards. 
A couple of days later, as dawn was breaking 
in the valley below, our bewitched eyes watched 
the Jungfrau putting on her immaculate robe of 
snow. We could just see the virgin's rosy cheek 
under her white veil. I started at once to conquer 
the enchantress. It looked at first as if she might 
say yes, but when I tried to pluck a few Edel- 


weiss from the hem of her mantle she suddenly 
got shy and went to hide herself behind a cloud. 
Try as I might, I never succeeded in approaching 
the beloved. The more I advanced the further 
she seemed to draw away from me. Soon a shroud 
of vapour and mist all aglow with sunrays hid 
her entirely from our view like the screen of fire 
and smoke that descends round her virgin sister 
Briinnhilde in the last act of the Walkyrie. An 
old witch whose business it was to watch over the 
fair maiden like a jealous old nurse, allured us 
further and further away from our goal among 
desolated crags and yawning precipices ready to 
engulf us at any moment. Soon the guides de- 
clared they had lost their way and that nothing 
remained but to return from where we came and 
the sooner the better. Defeated and lovesick, I 
was dragged down to the valley again by the stout 
rope of my two guides. "No wonder I was down- 
hearted, it was the second time in that year I had 
been thrown over by a young lady. But youth 
is a great healer of heart wounds. With a little 
sleep and a cool head one soon gets over them. 
Sleep I got but little, but luckily I did not lose 
my head. The following Sunday I remember 
even the date for it was my birthday I smoked my 
pipe on the top of Mont Blanc, where according to 
my two guides most people hang out their tongues 
gasping for breath. What happened that day I 
have related elsewhere, but since the little book is 
out of print I must tell it you here to make you 
understand what I owe to Professor Tillaux. 

The ascent of Mont Blanc, winter and summer, 


is comparatively speaking, easy. Nobody but a 
fool attempts the ascent in the autumn before the 
sun of the day and the frost of the night has had 
time to fix the fresh snow to the vast slopes of 
the mountain. The king of the Alps relies for 
his defence against intruders on his avalanches of 
fresh snow just as the Schreckhorn relies on his 
projectiles of loose rocks. 

It was luncheon time when I lit my pipe on 
the top. All the foreigners in the hotels of 
Chamonix were looking in turn through their 
telescopes at the three flies crawling about on the 
white calotte that covered -the head of the old 
mountain king. While they were having their 
luncheon, we were groping our way through the 
snow in the couloir under Mont Maudit, soon to 
appear again in their telescopes on the Grand 
Plateau. Nobody spoke, we all knew that the very 
sound of the voice might start an avalanche. Sud- 
denly Boisson looked back, and pointed with his 
ice-axe to a black line drawn as by the hand of 
a giant across the white slope. 

"Wir sind alle verloren," he murmured as the 
immense snowfield split in two and started the 
avalanche with a roar of thunder, hurling us down 
the slope with vertiginous speed. I felt nothing, 
I knew nothing. Suddenly the same reflex impulse 
which in Spallanzani's famous experiment made 
his decapitated frog move its paw to the spot he 
was pricking with a pin this same reflex impulse 
compelled the big unconscious animal to raise his 
hand to react against the sharp pain on his skull. 
The blunt peripheric sensation roused in my brain 
the instinct of self preservation the last to die. 


With a desperate effort I set to work to free my- 
self from the layer of snow under which I lay 
buried. I saw the glistening walls of blue ice 
around me, I saw the light of the day above my 
head through the aperture of the crevasse into 
which I had been hurled by the avalanche. Strange 
to remember I felt no fear, nor was I conscious 
of any thought either of the past, the present or 
the future. Gradually I became aware of an in- 
distinct sensation slowly groping its way through 
my benumbed brain till at last it reached my 
understanding. I recognized it at once, it was 
my old hobby, my incurable curiosity to know all 
there was to know about Death. My chance had 
come at last, could I only keep my head clear 
and look him straight into the face without 
flinching. I knew he was there, I fancied I could 
almost see hi advancing towards me in his icy 
shroud. What would he say to me, would he be 
harsh and unforgiving, or would he have pity OB 
me and just leave me where I was lying in the 
snow and let me freeze to everlasting sleep? In- 
comprehensible as it may seem I do believe that 
it was this last survival of my normal mentality, 
my curiosity about death, that saved my life. All 
at once I felt the grip of my fingers round the 
ice-axe, I felt the rope round my waist. The 
rope! Where were my two companions? I pulled 
the rope towards me as fast as I could, there was 
a sudden jerk, the black bearded head of Boisson 
popped out of the snow. He drew a deep gasp, 
pulled instantly the rope round his waist and 
dragged his half dazed companion out of his 


" How long does it take to freeze to death? * 
I asked. 

Boisson's quick eyes wandered round the walls 
of our prison and stopped riveted to a thin bridge 
of ice spanning the slanting walls of the crevasse 
like the flying buttress of a Gothic cathedral. 

" If I had an ice axe and if I could reach that 
bridge," he said, " I believe I could cut my way 

I handed him the ice axe my fingers were clasp- 
ing with an almost cataleptic grip. 

" Steady, for God's sake steady," he repeated 
as, standing on my shoulders like an acrobat he 
swung himself on to the ice bridge above our 
heads. Hanging on to the slanting walls with 
his hands he cut his way step by step out of the 
crevasse and dragged me up with the rope. With 
great difficulty we hoisted up the other guide still 
half stunned. The avalanche had swept away 
the usual traces of the landmarks, we had only 
one ice axe between us to warn us against falling 
into some crevasse hidden under the fresh snow. 
That we reached the hut after midnight was ac- 
cording to Boisson even a greater miracle than 
that we got out of the crevasse. The hut was 
almost buried under the snow, we had to break 
a hole through the roof to enter it. We fell head- 
long on the floor. I drank to the last drop the 
rancid oil of the little oil lamp while Boisson 
rubbed my frozen feet with snow, after having 
cut open my heavy mountain shoes with his knife. 
The rescue party from Chamonix having spent 
the whole morning in a fruitless search for ou* 
bodies on the track of the avalanche, found us 


all fast asleep on the floor of the hut. The next day 
I was taken in a hay cart to Geneva and put in 
the night express to Paris. 

Professor Tillaux stood washing his hands be- 
tween two operations as I staggered into the 
amphitheatre of Hotel Dieu the next morning. As 
they unwrapped the cotton wool round my legs 
he stared at my feet, and so did I, they were black 
as those of a negro. 

" Sacre Suedois, where the devil do you come 
from? " thundered the Professor. 

He gave me an anxious look from his kind blue 
eyes which made me feel quite ashamed of myself. 
I said I had been having a rest cure in Switzer- 
land, I had had a misadventure on a mountain, 
such as might happen to any tourist, I was very 

"Mais c'est lui," shouted an interne, "pour 
sur c'est lui!" Taking a 'Figaro' from the 
pocket of his blouse he began to read aloud a tele- 
gram from Chamonix about the miraculous escape 
of a foreigner who with his two guides had been 
carried away by an avalanche on descending Mont 

" Nom de tonnerre, nom de nom de nom! 
Fiche moi la paix sacre Suedois, qu'est-ce que tu 
viens faire ici, va-t-en a TAsile St. Anne ehez les 

" Allow me to demonstrate to you the skull of 
a Lapland bear/* he went on while he was dress- 
ing the ugly cut on the top of my skull. "A 
knock-down blow that would have stunned an 
elephant but not a fracture, not even a commo- 
tion cerebrale! Why take the long journey to 


Chamonix, why don't you climb up to the top of 
the tower of Notre Dame and throw yourself down 
in the square under our windows, there is no dan- 
ger as long as you fall on your head! " 

I was always delighted when the Professor 
chaffed me as it was a sure sign I was in his good 
graces. I wanted to drive straight to Avenue de 
Villiers but Tillaux thought I would be more com- 
fortable for a couple of days in a separate room 
in the hospital. I was surely his worst pupil, 
still he had taught me enough of surgery to make 
me realize that he meant to amputate me. For 
five days he came to look at my legs, three times 
a day, on the sixth day I was on my sofa in Ave- 
nue de Villiers all danger over. The punishment 
was severe in any case, I was laid up for six weeks, 
I got so nervous that I had to write a book 
don't be afraid, it is out of print. I hobbled about 
on two sticks for another month, then I was all 
right again. 

I tremble at the thought of what would have 
happened to me had I fallen into the hands of 
one of the other leading surgeons in Paris in those 
days. Old Papa Richet in the other wing of 
Hotel Dieu would surely have made me die of 
gangrene or blood poisoning, it was his speciality, 
it was rampant all over his medieval clinic. The 
famous Professor Pean, the terrible butcher of 
Hopital St. Louis, would have chopped off both 
my legs on the spot and thrown them on the top 
of some stumps of arms and legs, half-a-dozen 
ovaries and uteruses and various tumours, all in 
a heap on the floor of his amphitheatre besmeared 


with blood like a slaughterhouse. Then, his enor- 
mous hands still red with my blood, he would have 
plunged his knife with the dexterity of a conjurer 
into his next victim, half conscious under insuffi- 
cient anaesthesia, while half-a-dozen others, scream- 
ing with terror on their brancards, were awaiting 
their turn of torture. The massacre en masse at 
an end, Pean would wipe the sweat from his fore- 
head, rub a few spots of blood and pus from his 
white waistcoat and dresscoat he always operated 
in evening dress and with a: Voila pour 
aujourd'hui, Messieurs! he would rush out of the 
amphitheatre to his pompous landau and drive full 
speed to his private clinic in Rue de la Sante to 
cut open the abdomens of half-a-dozen women 
driven there by a gigantic reclame like helpless 
sheep to the slaughterhouse of La Villette, 


J SELDOM f ailed to attend Professor Charcot's 
famous Lefons du Mardi in the Salpetriere, 
just then chiefly devoted to his grande hysterie 
and to hypnotism. The huge amphitheatre was 
filled to the last place with a multicoloured audi- 
ence drawn from tout Paris, authors, journalists, 
leading actors and actresses, fashionable demi- 
mondaines, all full of morhid curiosity to witness 
the startling phenomena of hypnotism almost 
forgotten since the days of Mesmer and Braid. 
It was during one of these lectures that I became 
acquainted with Guy de Maupassant then already 
famous for his Boule de smf and his unforgettable 
Mdson TeUier. We used to have endless talks 
on hypnotism and all sorts of mental troubles, 
he never tired of trying to draw from me what 
little I knew on these subjects* He also wanted 
to know everything about insanity, he was col- 
lecting just then materials for his terrible book 
* Le Horla/ a faithful picture of his own tragic 
future* He even accompanied me once on a 
visit to Professor Bernheim's clinic in Nancy 
which opened my eyes to the fallacies of the 
Salpetriere school in regard to hypnotism. I 
also stayed as his guest for a couple of days on 
hoard his yacht I well remember our sitting 



up the whole night talking about death in the 
little saloon of his Bel Ami riding at her anchor off 
Antibes harbour. He was afraid of death. He 
said the thought of death was seldom out of his 
mind. He wanted to know all about the various 
poisons, their rapidity of action and their relative 
painlessness. He was particularly insistent in 
questioning me about death at sea. I told him 
my belief that death at sea without a lifebelt was 
a relatively easy death, with the lifebelt perhaps 
the most terrible of all I can see him now fixing 
his sombre eyes on the lifebelts hung by the cabin 
door and saying he would throw them overboard 
next morning. I asked h if he meant to send 
us to the bottom of the sea during our projected 
cruise to Corsica. He sat silent for a while. 

" No/* he said at last, he thought after all he 
wanted to die in the arms of a woman. I told 
him at the rate he was going he had a fair chance 
to see his wish fulfilled. As I spoke Yvonne woke 
up, asked half dazed for another glass of cham- 
pagne and fell asleep again, her head on his lap. 
She was a ballet dancer, barely eighteen, reared 
by the vicious caresses of some vieux marcheur in 
the coulisses of the Grand Opera, now helplessly 
drifting to total destruction on board the Bel Ami 
in the lap of her terrible lover. I knew that no 
lifebelt could save her, I knew she would have 
refused it if I had offered it to her. I knew she 
had given her heart as well as her body to this 
insatiable male who had no use for anything but 
her body. I knew what her fate would be, it was 
not the first girl I had seen asleep, her head on 
his lap. How far he was responsible for his doings 


5s another question. The fear that haunted his 
restless brain day and night was already visible 
in his eyes, I for one considered him already then 
as a doomed man. I knew that the subtle poison 
of his own BouLe de Suif had already begun its 
work of destruction in this magnificent brain. Did 
he know it himself? I often thought he did. The 
M.S. of his * Sur 1'Eau ' was lying on the table 
between us, he had just read me a few chapters, 
the best thing he had ever written I thought. He 
was still producing with feverish haste one master- 
piece after another, slashing his excited brain with 
champagne, ether and drugs of all sorts. Women 
after women in endless succession hastened the de- 
struction, women recruited from all quarters, from 
Faubourg St. Germain to the Boulevards, actresses, 
ballet-dancers, midinettes, grisettes, common pros- 
titutes * le taureau triste ' his friends used to call 
him. He was exceedingly proud of his successes, 
always hinting about mysterious ladies of the high- 
est society admitted to his flat in Rue Clauzel by his 
faithful valet Fra^ois the first symptom of his 
approaching f olie des grandeurs. He often used to 
rush up the steps of Avenue de Villiers to sit down 
in a corner of my room looking at me in silence with 
that morbid fixity of his eyes I knew so well. Often 
he used to stand for minutes staring at himself in 
the mirror over the mantelpiece as if he was looking 
at a stranger. One day he told me that while he was 
sitting at his writing-table hard at work on his new 
novel he had been greatly surprised to see a stranger 
enter his study notwithstanding the severe vigilance 
of his valet The stranger had sat down opposite 
him at the writing-table and began to dictate to M 


what he was about to write. He was just going to 
ring for Fran?ois to have him turned out when he 
saw to his horror that the stranger was himself. 

A couple of days later I was standing by his 
side in the coulisses of the Grand Opera watch- 
ing Mademoiselle Yvonne dancing a pas de quatre, 
smiling on the sly at her lover whose flaming eyes 
never left her. We had late supper in the ele- 
gant little flat Maupassant had just taken for her. 
She had washed off the rouge from her face, I 
was shocked to see how pale and worn she looked 
compared with when I had first seen her in the 
yacht. She told me she always took ether when 
she was dancing, there was nothing like ether for 
a pick-me-up, all her comrades took ether, even 
Monsieur le Directeur du Corps de Ballet him- 
self as a matter of fact I saw him die of it many 
years later in his villa in Capri. Maupassant 
complained that she was getting too thin and that 
she was keeping him awake at night by her in- 
cessant coughing. At his request I examined 
her the next morning, there was serious trouble 
at the top of one of the lungs. I told Maupas- 
sant she must have complete rest, I advised 
him to send her for the winter to Menton. Mau- 
passant said he was quite willing to do all that 
could be done for her, besides he did not fancy 
thin women. She refused point blank to go, she 
said she would rather die than leave him. She 
gave me lots of trouble during the winter and 
also lots of new patients. One after another her 
comrades began to turn up at Avenue de Villiers, 
to consult me on the sly, afraid as they were to 
be put on half pay by the regular doctor of the 


Opera. The coulisses of the Corps de Ballet were 
a new world to me not exempt from danger to 
the inexperienced explorer for, alas, it was not 
only to the altar of the Goddess Terpsichore that 
these young vestals brought the garlands of 
their youth. Luckily for me their Terpsichore 
had been turned out of my Olympus with the last 
forgotten strains of Gluck's Chaconne and Mozart's 
Menuett, what remained to-day was to my eyes 
acrobatics pure and simple. Not so with the 
other onlookers in the coulisses. I never ceased 
to wonder at the facility with which these decrepit 
Don Giovannis lost their balance while watching 
all these half -naked girls keeping theirs on the 
tip of their toes. 

Yvonne had her first haemorrhage and the trouble 
began in earnest. Maupassant like all authors 
who write about illness and death hated to watch 
it at close quarters. Yvonne drank bottles of 
cod-liver oil by the dozen in order to get fat, she 
knew her lover did not like thin women. It 
was all in vain, soon nothing remained of her fair 
youth but her wonderful eyes, lustrous with 
fever and ether. Maupassant's purse remained 
open to her, but his arms soon closed round the 
body of one of her comrades. Yvonne threw a 
bottle of vitriol at the face of her rival, luckily 
she nearly missed her. She escaped with two 
months* imprisonment thanks to Maupassant's 
powerful influence and to a certificate from me 
that she had only a couple of months to five. 
Once out of prison she refused to return to her 
flat notwithstanding Maupassant's entreaties. 
She vanished into the vast unknown of the 


immense city like the doomed animal hiding to 
die. I found her by a mere accident a month 
later in a bed at St. Lazare the last stage in 
the Via Cnicis of all the fallen and forlorn women 
of Paris. I told her I would let Maupassant 
know, I felt sure he would come to see her at 
once. I called at Maupassant's house the same 
afternoon, there was no time to lose, it was evi- 
dent that she had not many days to lire. The 
faithful Fran$ois was at his usual post as a Cer- 
berus, watching over his master against any in- 
truders. I tried in vain to be admitted, the orders 
were severe, no visitor was to be admitted under 
any circumstances, it was the usual story about 
the mysterious lady. All I could do was to 
scribble a note about Yvonne to his master which 
Fran9ois promised to deliver at once. Whether 
he got it or not I never knew, I hope he did not, 
it is quite probable, for Francois was always 
trying to keep his beloved master away from his 
entanglements with women. When I came to St. 
Lazare the next day, Yvonne was dead. The 
nun told me she had spent the whole morning 
putting rouge on her face and arranging her hair, 
she had even borrowed from an old prostitute 
in the next bed a little red silk shawl, last vestige 
of past splendour, to cover her emaciated 
shoulders. She told the nun she was expecting 
her Monsieur, she waited eagerly the whole day 
but he never came. In the morning they found 
her dead in her bed, she had swallowed to the last 
drop her portion of chloral. 

Two months later I saw Guy de Maupassant 
in the garden of Maison Blanche in Passy, the 


well known asylum* He was walking about on 
the arm of his faithful Fran9ois, throwing small 
pebbles on the flower beds with the geste of 
Millet's Semeur. "Look, look," he said, "they 
will all come up as little Maupassants in the spring 

if only it will rain." 

* * # 

To me who for years had been devoting my 
spare time to study hypnotism these stage per- 
formances of the Salpetriere before the public of 
Tout Paris were nothing but an absurd farce, a 
hopeless muddle of truth and cheating. Some of 
these subjects were no doubt real somnambulists 
faithfully carrying out in a waking state the various 
suggestions made to them during sleep post- 
hypnotic suggestions. Many of them were mere 
frauds, knowing quite well what they were ex- 
pected to do, delighted to perform their various 
tricks in public, cheating both doctors and audi- 
ence with the amazing cunning of the hysteriques. 
They were always ready to * piquer une attaque * 
of Charcot's classical grande hysteric, arc-en- 
ciel and all, or to exhibit his famous three stages 
of hypnotism: lethargy, catalepsy, somnambulism, 
all invented by the Master and hardly ever ob- 
served outside the Salpetriere. Some of them 
smelt with delight a bottle of ammonia when told 
it was rose water, others would eat a piece of 
charcoal when presented to them as chocolate. 
Another would crawl on all fours on the floor, 
barking furiously, when told she was a dog, flap 
her arms as if trying to fly when turned into a 
pigeon, lift her skirts with a shriek of terror when 
a glove was thrown at her feet with a suggestion 


of being a snake. Another would walk with a 
top hat in her arms rocking it to and fro and 
kissing it tenderly when she was told it was her 
baby. Hypnotized right and left, dozens of times 
a day, by doctors and students, many of these 
unfortunate girls spent their days in a state of 
semi-trance, their brains bewildered by all sorts 
of absurd suggestions, half conscious and cer- 
tainly not responsible for their doings, sooner or 
later doomed to end, their days in the salle des 
agites if not in a lunatic asylum. While con- 
demning these Tuesday gala performances in the 
amphitheatre as unscientific and unworthy of the 
Salpetriere, it would be unfair not to admit that 
serious work was done in the wards to investigate 
many of the still obscure phenomena of hypno- 
tism. I myself was just then by the permission 
of the chef de clinique carrying out some interest- 
ing experiments in post-hypnotic suggestion and 
telepathy with one of these girls, one of the best 
somnambulists I have ever met. 

I had already then grave doubts as to the cor- 
rectness of Charcot's theories, accepted without 
opposition by his blindfolded pupils and the pub- 
lic by means of what can only be explained as 
a sort of suggestion en masse. I had returned 
from my last visit to Professor Bernheim's clinic 
in Nancy as an obscure but resolute supporter 
of the so-called Nancy school in opposition to the 
teachings of Charcot. To speak of the Nancy 
school at the Salpetriere was in those days con- 
sidered almost as an act of lese-majeste. Charcot 
himself flew into a rage at the very mentioning 
of Professor Bernheim's name. An article of 


mine in the * Gazette des Hopitaux ' inspired by 
my last visit to Nancy was shown to the Master 
by one of his assistants who disliked me cordially. 
For several days Charcot seemed to ignore my 
presence altogether. Some time later appeared 
in the * Figaro ' a violent article under the nom 
de plume of " Ignotus," one of the leading jour- 
nalists of Paris, denouncing these public demon- 
strations of hypnotism as a dangerous and ridicu- 
lous spectacle of no scientific value, unworthy of 
the great Master of the Salpetriere. I was present 
when this article was shown to Charcot during 
the morning round, I was amazed at his furious 
resentment against a mere newspaper article, it 
seemed to me he could have well afforded to ig- 
nore it. There was plenty of jealousy among his 
pupils, I had a large share of it. Who started 
the lie I do not know, but to my horror I soon 
became aware of a rumour that "Ignotus" had 
got his most damaging facts from me. Charcot 
never said a word to me about it, but from that 
day his usual cordial attitude to me had changed. 
Then came the blow, one of the bitterest I ever 
received in my life. Fate had set the trap, with 
my usual impulsive f oolhardiness I walked straight 
into it. 

One Sunday as I was leaving the hospital I 
came upon a pair of old peasants sitting on a 
bench under the plane-trees in the inner court. 
They smelt of the country, of the orchard, the 
fields and the cowhouse, it did my heart good to 
look at them. I asked them where they came 
from and what they were doing there. The old 


man in his long blue blouse lifted his hand to his 
beret, the old woman in her neat white coiffe 
curtseyed to me with a friendly smile. They said 
they had arrived there the same morning from 
their village in Normandy on a visit to their 
daughter who had been kitchen maid in the 
Salpetriere for over two years. It was a very 
good job, she had been taken there by one of the 
nuns in their village who was now undercook in 
the hospital kitchen. But there was lots to do 
on the farm, they had now three cows and six 
pigs and they had come to take their daughter 
home, she was a very strong and healthy girl and 
they were getting too old to work the farm alone. 
They were so tired from the long night journey 
in the train that they had had to sit down on the 
bench to rest for a while. Would I be so kind 
as to show them where the kitchen was? I said 
they had to cross three courts and pass through 
endless corridors, I had better take them to the 
kitchen myself and help them to find their daugh- 
ter. God knows how many kitchen maids there 
were in the immense kitchen which prepared food 
for nearly three thousand mouths! We trotted 
off to the kitchen pavilion, the old woman never 
ceasing to tell me about their apple-orchard, their 
crop of potatoes, the pigs, the cows, the excellent 
cheese she was making. She produced from her 
basket a little fromage de creme she had just made 
for Genevieve, but she would be very pleased if 
I would accept it. I looked at her face as she 
handed me the cheese. 

How old was Genevieve? 

She was just twenty. 


Was she fair and very good-looking? 

" Her father says she looks exactly like me," 
answered the old mother simply. 

The old man nodded approvingly. 

" Are you sure she is working in the kitchen? " 
I asked with an involuntary shudder looking 
again attentively at the wrinkled face of the old 

For all answer the old man fumbled about 
in the immense pocket of his blouse and pro- 
duced Genevieve's last letter. I had been a keen 
student of calligraphy for years, I recognized 
at a glance the curiously twisted and naive, but 
remarkably neat handwriting, gradually improved 
during hundreds of experiences in automatic hand- 
Writing, even under my own supervision. 

" This way," I said taking them straight up 
to the Salle St. Agnes, the ward of the grandes 

Genevieve was sitting dangling her silk-stock- 
inged legs from the long table in the middle of 
the ward with a copy of *Le Hire 5 in her lap 
with her own portrait on the title-page. At her 
side sat Lisette, another of the leading stars of 
the company. Genevieve's coquettishly arranged 
hair was adorned with a blue silk ribbon, a row 
of false pearls hung round her neck, her pale face 
was made up with rouge, her lips painted. To 
all appearance she looked more like an enter- 
prising midinette off for a stroll on the Boule- 
vards than the inmate of a hospital. Genevieve 
was the prima donna of the Tuesday stage per- 
formances, spoiled and petted by everybody, very 


pleased with herself and her surroundings. The 
two old peasants stared bewildered at their 
daughter. Genevieve looked back at them with 
an indifferent, silly air, she did not seem to recog- 
nize them at first. Suddenly her face began to 
twitch and with a piercing scream she fell head- 
long on the floor in violent convulsions, to be fol- 
lowed immediately by Lisette in the classic arc-en- 
ciel. Obeying the law of imitation a couple of 
other hysteriques started to * piquer ' their attacks 
from their beds, one in convulsive laughter, one 
in a flood of tears. The two old folk speechless 
with terror were rapidly pushed out of the ward 
by the nuns. I joined them on the stairs and took 
them down to the bench under the plane-trees. 
They were still too frightened even to cry. It 
was not easy to explain the situation to these poor 
peasants. How their daughter had landed in the 
salle des hysteriques from the kitchen I did not 
know myself. I spoke to them as gently as I 
could, I said their daughter would soon be all 
right again. The old mother began to cry, the 
small twinkling eyes of the father began to shine 
with an evil light I urged them to return to 
their village, I promised them that their daugh- 
ter should be sent home as soon as possible. The 
father wanted to take her away at once but the 
mother backed me up by saying that it was wiser 
to leave her where she was till she got better, she 
was sure her daughter was in good hands. After 
repeating my promise to arrange as soon as pos- 
sible with the professor and the director of the 
hospital the necessary formalities for sending 
Genevieve home in charge of a nurse I succeeded 


with great difficulty in putting them in a cab to 
drive to Gare d'Orleans to catch the next train. 
The thought of the two old peasants kept me awake 
the whole night. How was I to keep my promise? 
I knew only too well that I was just then the 
most unsuitable of all men to speak to Charcot 
about their daughter, I knew equally well that 
she would never consent to leave the Salpetriere 
and return to her humble old home of her own 
free will. I could see only one solution, to con- 
quer that will of hers and replace it by my own 
will. I knew Genevieve well as an excellent 
somnambulist. She had been trained by others 
and by myself to carry out post-hypnotic sugges- 
tions to be transformed into act with the fatality 
of a falling stone, with an almost astronomic 
punctuality and amnesia i.e. complete ignorance 
in her waking state of what she had been told to 
do. I applied to the chef de clinique to continue 
my experiments with Genevieve in telepathy, just 
then the order of the day. He was himself keenly 
interested in the subject, offered me to work 
undisturbed in his own cabinet for an hour every 
afternoon and wished me good luck. I had told 
him a lie. The very first day I suggested to 
Genevieve under deep hypnosis to stay in bed the 
following Tuesday instead of going to the amphi- 
theatre, to dislike her life in the Salpetriere and 
to wish to return to her parents. For a week I 
repeated daily these suggestions to her with no 
apparent result. The following week she was 
absent and much missed during the Tuesday per- 
formance in the amphitheatre. I was told she had 
a cold and was in bed. A couple of days later 


I found her with a railway guide in her hands, 
she put it rapidly in her pocket as soon as she 
saw me, an excellent sign that I could rely on 
her amnesia. Soon afterwards it was suggested 
to her to go to the Bon Marche the following Thurs- 
day the day out to buy herself a new hat. I 
saw her show it with great pride to Lisette the 
next morning. Two days later she was ordered 
to leave the Salle St. Agnes at twelve o'clock the 
next day while the nuns were busy distributing 
the midday meal, to slip out of the porter's lodge 
while he was having his luncheon, jump into a 
cab and drive straight to Avenue de Villiers. 
On returning home to my consultation I found 
her sitting in my waiting room. I asked her 
what was the matter, she looked very embarrassed 
and muttered something about wanting to see my 
dogs and the monkey I had told her about. She 
was entertained by Rosalie in the dining room with 
a cup of coffee and put into a cab to drive back 
to the hospital. 

" C'est une belle fille," said Rosalie putting her 
finger to her forehead, "mais je crois qu'ellea 
une araignee dans le plafond. Elle m'a dit 
qu'elle ne savait pas du tout pourquoi elle etait 
venue 191." 

The success of this preliminary experiment made 
me decide with my usual impulsiveness to carry 
out my plan at once. Genevieve was ordered to 
come to Avenue de Yilliers with the same precau- 
tions and at the same hour two days later. It 
was on a Monday, I had invited Norstrom for 
luncheon, I wanted him there as a witness in case 
of unforeseen complications. When I told him of 


my plan, he warned me of the serious consequences 
it might have to myself whether in case of failure 
or success, he was besides certain she would not 
turn up. 

" Suppose she has told somehody," said Nor- 

" She cannot tell what she does not know her- 
self, she will not know she is coming to Avenue 
de Villiers till the clock strikes twelve." 

" But could it not be got out of her under hyp- 
notic sleep? " he insisted. 

" There is only one man who could wrench it 
out of her Charcot himself. But since he takes 
little notice of her except during his Tuesday lec- 
tures, I have eliminated this possibility." 

I said it was besides too late for discussions, 
I was sure she had already left the hospital and 
would turn up in less than half-an-hour. 

The grandfather clock in the hall chimed a 
quarter to one, I thought it was going too fast, 
for the first time its deep voice irritated my 

"I wish you would chuck all this nonsense 
about hypnotism," said Norstrom lighting his big 
cigar. "You have got it on the brain, you will 
end by getting crazy yourself if you are not al- 
ready. I do not believe in hypnotism, I have 
tried to hypnotize several people, but I have never 

"I would not believe in hypnotism myself if 
you had/' I retorted angrily. 

The front bell rang. I sprang to open the door 
myself. It was Miss Anderssen, the nurse I had 
ordered to be there at one o'clock to take Gene- 


vieve home. She was to start with her by the night 
express to Normandy with a letter from me to 
the cure of the village explaining the situation and 
begging him to prevent at all costs Genevieve's 
return to Paris. 

I sat down at the dining table again smoking 
furiously cigarette after cigarette. 

"What has the nurse to say to all this?" 
asked Norstrom. 

" She says nothing, she is English. She knows 
me well, she trusts my judgment absolutely." 

"I wish I did," growled Norstrom puffing at 
his cigar. 

The Cromwell clock on the mantelpiece struck 
half-past-one confirmed with uncanny precision 
by the voice of half-a-dozen old clocks from every 

" Failure," said Norstrom phlegmatically, " and 
so much the better for both of us, I am d d glad 
not to be mixed up in this business." 

I did not close my eyes that night, this time 
it was Genevieve and not the two peasants that 
kept ine awake. I had since long been so spoiled 
by luck that my nerves were ill adapted for failure. 
What had happened? 

I felt sick and slightly faint as I entered the 
amphitheatre of the Salpetriere the next morning. 
Charcot had already begun his Tuesday lecture 
on hypnotism, Genevieve was not there in her usual 
place on the platform. I slipped out of the room 
and went up to the Salle de Gardes. One of the 
internes told me he had been summoned from his 
luncheon yesterday to Salle St. Agnes where he 


found Genevieve in a state of cataleptic coma 
interrupted by the most violent convulsions he had 
ever seen. One of the nuns had met her outside 
the hospital half an hour before as she was jumping 
into a cab. She had looked so agitated that the nun 
had brought her back to the porter's lodge with 
greatest difficulty and she had had to be carried 
upstairs to the Salle St. Agnes. The whole night 
she had fought desperately like a wild animal 
trying to escape from its cage, they had had to 
put her into a strait- jacket. She was now shut 
up in a separate room with a heavy dose of bromide 
and a bonnet d'irrigation on her head. Nobody 
understood the cause of this sudden change. Char- 
cot himself had visited her and succeeded with 
great difficulty in putting her to sleep. We were 
interrupted by the entering of the chef de clinique 
who told me he had been hunting for me all over 
the hospital, Charcot wished to speak to me, he 
was to take me to his cabinet as soon as the lesson 
in the amphitheatre was finished. He did not say 
a single word to me as we passed through the 
adjoining laboratories. He knocked at the door 
and I entered the well known little sanctuary of 
the Master for the last time in my life. Charcot 
sat in his usual chair by the table, bent over the 
microscope. He raised his head and flashed his 
terrible eyes on me. Speaking very slowly, his 
deep voice trembling with rage, he said I had tried 
to allure to my house an inmate of his hospital, 
a young girl, a desequilibree, half unconscious of 
her acts. According to her own confession she 
had already been once to my house, my diabolical 
plan to take advantage of her a second time had 


only miscarried by a mere accident. It was a 
criminal offence, he ought to hand me over to the 
police but for the honour of the profession and 
the red ribbon in my buttonhole he would let me 
off by turning me out* of the hospital, he wished 
never to set his eyes on me again. 

I felt as if struck by lightning, my tongue stuck 
to my palate, I could not utter a word. Suddenly 
as I realized the real meaning of his abominable 
accusation my fear left me. I answered angrily 
that it was he and his followers and not I who had 
brought ruin to this girl who had entered the hos- 
pital as a strong and healthy peasant girl and 
would leave it as a lunatic if she remained there 
much longer. I had adopted the only course open 
to me to return her to her old parents. I had failed 
to rescue her and I was sorry I had failed. 

" Assez, Monsieur! " he shouted. 

He turned to the chef de clinique and told him 
to accompany me to the porter's lodge with orders 
from himself to refuse to let me enter the hospital 
again, adding that if his own authority was not 
sufficient to exclude me from his clinic he would 
report the matter to the Assistance Publique. He 
rose from his chair and walked out of the room 
with his slow, heavy step. 



famous platform performances in the 
i amphitheatre of the Salpetriere which 
brought on my disgrace, have since long been 
condemned by every serious student of hypnotic 
phenomena. Charcot's theories on hypnotism 
imposed by the sheer weight of his authority on a 
whole generation of doctors have fallen into dis- 
credit after having retarded our knowledge of 
the true nature of these phenomena for over 
twenty years. Almost every single one of Char- 
cot's theories on hypnotism has proved wrong. 
Hypnotism is not, as he said, an artificially 
induced neurosis only to be encountered in 
hysteria, in hypersensitive, weak-minded and 
ill balanced people. The contrary is the truth. 
Hysterical subjects are as a rule less easily hyp- 
notizable than well balanced and mentally sound 
people. Intelligent, strong-willed and domineer- 
ing people are more easy to hypnotize than dull, 
stupid, superficial, weak-minded people. Idiots 
and lunatics are in the majority of cases refrac* 
tory to hypnotic influence. People who say they 
don't believe in hypnotism, laugh at you and say 
they are sure they cannot be hypnotized, are as 
a rule most easy to put to sleep. All children 
are easily hypnotizable. Hypnotic sleep cannot 



be produced by mechanical means alone. The shin- 
ing glass balls, the revolving mirrors borrowed from 
the bird-catcher, the magnets, the fixed staring in 
the eyes of the subject, the classical mesmeric passes 
used at the Salpetriere and the Charite are sheer 

The therapeutic value of hypnotism in medicine 
and surgery is not negligible as Charcot said. On 
the contrary it is immense if in the hands of 
competent doctors with clear heads and clean 
hands, and thoroughly acquainted with the tech- 
nique. The statistics of thousands of well in- 
vestigated cases prove this beyond dispute. Speak- 
ing of myself who have never been what is 
called a hypnotiseur but a nerve doctor compelled 
to make use of this weapon when other remedies 
had proved useless, I have often obtained mar- 
vellous results by this still misunderstood method 
of healing. Mental disorders of various kinds 
with or without loss of will power, alcoholism, 
morphinomania, cocainomania, nymphomania can 
as a rule be cured by this method. Sexual in- 
version is more difficult to tackle. In many if 
not most cases it cannot be considered as a disease 
but as a deviation of the sexual instinct natural 
to certain individuals where an energetic inter- 
ference often does more harm than good. Whether 
and how far our social laws should interfere, 
is a very complicated question I do not mean 
to discuss here. What is certain is that the 
actual formulation of the law is founded upon 
a misunderstanding of the uncomfortable position 
in our midst of this numerous class of people. 
They are no criminals, but mere victims of a 


momentary absent-mindedness of Mother Nature, 
perhaps at their birth, perhaps at their conception. 
What is the explanation of the enormous increase 
of sexual inversion? Does nature revenge herself 
on the masculinized girl of to-day by rearing 
an effeminate son from her straightened hips 
and flattened breasts? Or are we the bewildered 
spectators of a new phase of evolution with a 
gradual amalgamation of two distinct animals 
into a new, hitherto unknown specimen, last 
survival of a doomed race on a worn-out planet, 
missing link between the Homo sapiens of to- 
day and the mysterious Super-Homo of to- 

The great benefit derived from hypnotic an- 
aesthesia in surgical operations and childbirth is 
now admitted by everybody. Even more striking 
is the beneficial effect of this method in the most 
painful of all operations, as a rule still to be 
endured without ansesthesia Death. What it 
was granted to me to do for many of our dying 
soldiers during the last war is enough to make me 
thank God for having had this powerful weapon 
in my hands. In the autumn of 1915 I spent two 
unforgettable days and nights among a couple of 
hundred dying soldiers, huddled together under 
their blood-stained great-coats on the floor of a 
village church in France. We had no morphia, 
no chloroform, no anaesthetics whatsoever to al- 
leviate their tortures and shorten their agony. 
Many of them died before my eyes, insensible and 
unaware, often even a smile on their lips, with my 
hand on their forehead, my slowly repeated words 
of hope and comfort resounding in their ears, the 


terror of death gradually vanishing from their clos- 
ing eyes. 

What was this mysterious force which almost 
seemed to emanate from my hand? Where did 
it come from? Did it come from the stream of 
consciousness within me helow the level of my 
waking life, or was it after all the mysterious 
"odylic force," the magnetic fluid of the old 
mesmerists? Of course modern science has done 
away with the magnetic fluid and replaced it with 
a dozen new, more or less ingenious theories. I 
know them all, none of them satisfies me so far. 
Suggestion alone, the very keystone of the now 
universally accepted theory on hypnotism, cannot 
explain all its startling phenomena. The word 
suggestion as used by its chief promoters, the 
Nancy school, differs besides only in name from 
this now ridiculed odylic force of Mesmer. Let 
us admit, as we must do, that the miracle is not 
done by the operator but by the subconscious 
mind of the subject. But how are we to explain 
the success of the one operator and the failure of 
another? Why does the suggestion of one opera- 
tor re-echo as a word of command in the subter- 
ranean workshop of the subject's mind to bring 
its hidden forces into action while this same 
suggestion made by another operator is inter- 
cepted by the subject's consciousness and re- 
mains ineffective? I, of all people, am anxious 
to know it, because ever since *I was a boy, I have 
been aware that I myself possessed this power, 
whatever name is given to it, in an exceptional 
degree. Most of my patients, young and old, 
men and women, seemed to find it out sooner or 


later and often spoke to me about it* My com- 
rades in the hospital wards all knew about it, 
Charcot himself knew about it and often utilized 
it. Professor Voisin, the famous alienist of Asile 
St. Anne, often made me assist him in his des- 
perate endeavours to hypnotize some of his luna- 
tics. We used to work for hours with these poor 
lunatics screaming and raving with rage in their 
strait-jackets, unable to do anything but to spit 
in our faces, as they often did. The result of 
our efforts was in most cases negative, but on 
several occasions I succeeded in calming down 
some of them when the Professor himself had 
failed, notwithstanding his marvellous patience. 
All the keepers in the Jardin Zoologique and 
Menagerie Pezon knew about it. It was a familiar 
trick of mine to put their snakes, lizards, tortoises, 
parrots, owls, bears and big cats into a state of 
lethargy, quite similar to Charcot's first stage of 
hypnosis, often I even succeeded in inducing 
profound sleep. I think I have already men- 
tioned how I opened an abscess and extracted a 
splinter from the paw of Leonie the magnificent 
lioness in the Menagerie Pezon. It could not be 
explained but as a case of local anaesthesia under 
slight hypnosis. Monkeys, notwithstanding their 
restlessness are easily put to sleep thanks to their 
high intelligence and impressionable nervous sys- 
tem. Snake charming is of course a hypnotic 
phenomenon. I have myself put a cobra into 
a state of catalepsy in the temple of Karnak. 
The training of wild elephants has, I suspect, also 
something to do with hypnotic influence. The 
way I once heard a mahout talking for hours to 


one of the elephants of the Zoo who had become 
restive, sounded exactly like hypnotic suggestion. 
Most birds are easily hypnotizable, everybody 
knows how easily it is done with chickens. In all 
dealings with animals, wild and tame, the soothing 
influence of the monotonous sound of slowly re- 
peated words can easily be verified by every ob- 
server, so much so that it almost seems as if they 
understood the very meaning of what one said to 
them what would I not give if I could under- 
stand what they said to me! Still it is obviously 
impossible to speak of mental suggestion here. 
There must be some other power at work, I ask 
again and in vain, what is this power? 

Among my patients I had handed over to Nor- 
strom during my absence in Sweden was a bad 
case of morphinomania nearly cured by hypnotic 
suggestion. As I was anxious that the treatment 
should not be interrupted I made Norstrom assist 
at the last seance. He said it was quite easy and 
the patient seemed to like frim. On my return 
to Paris she had fallen back into her old habits, 
my colleague had been unable to hypnotize her. 
I tried to make her explain the reason of his 
failure, she said she could not understand it her- 
self, she was very sorry, she had tried her best and 
so had Norstrom whom she said she liked very 

Charcot once sent xne a young foreign diplomat, 
a bad case of sexual inversion. Both Professor 
Eraft-Ebing, the famous specialist of Vienna and 
Charcot himself had been unable to hypnotize 
this man. He himself was most anxious to be 


cured, he was living in constant fear of blackmail 
and was most distressed over their failure. He 
said he was convinced it was his only chance, 
that he felt sure he would be all right if he could 
be put to sleep. 

" But you are asleep," said I, barely touching 
his forehead with the top of my fingers, no passes, 
no staring in his eyes, no suggestion. The words 
were hardly out of my mouth before his eyelids 
closed with a slight tremor, he was in deep hyp- 
notic sleep in less than a minute. It looked 
hopeful at first, a month later he returned to his 
country full of confidence for the future, far more 
so than I was. He said he was going to propose 
to a young lady he had become fond of of late, 
he was most anxious to marry and have children. 
I lost sight of him. A year later I heard by a 
mere accident that he had killed himself. Had this 
unhappy man consulted me a few years later when 
I had acquired more knowledge of sexual inversion 
I would never have attempted the hopeless task of 
curing him* 

Outside the Salpetriere I have hardly ever 
come across Charcot's famous three stages of 
hypnosis so strikingly exhibited during his Tues- 
day lectures. They were all invented by himself, 
grafted on his hysterical subjects and accepted 
by his pupils by the powerful suggestion of the 
Master. The same affirmation holds good in 
regard to his special hobby, his grande hysteric 
then rampant all over the Salpetriere, ward after 
ward full of it, now almost extinct The fact 
that all these experiments in hypnotism were 


done on hysterical subjects, is the only possible 
explanation of his inability to understand the true 
nature of these phenomena. If the statement of 
the Salpetriere school that only hysterical subjects 
are hypnotizable was correct it would mean that at 
least eighty-five per cent of mankind was suffering 
from hysteria. 

But on one point Charcot was surely right, 
whatever the Nancy school, Forel, Moll and 
many others may say. Experiments on hyp- 
notism are not without their danger, to the sub- 
jects as well as to the spectators. Personally I 
think public demonstrations of hypnotic phenom- 
ena should be forbidden by law. Specialists 
in nervous and mental disorders can no more do 
without hypnotism than can surgeons without 
chloroform and ether. One need only remember 
the thousands and thousands of helpless cases 
of shell-shock and traumatic neuroses during the 
last war cured as by enchantment by this method. 
Hypnotic treatment in the great majority of 
cases does not necessitate hypnotic sleep with 
abolition of waking consciousness. An operator 
well acquainted with its complicated technique 
and who knows something about psychology 
both these qualifications are necessary for success 
will as a rule obtain remarkable, often amazing 
results, by the mere use of what is called sug- 
gestion a Tetat de veille. The Nancy school 
maintains that hypnotic sleep and natural sleep 
are identical. It is not so. As yet we do not 
know what hypnotic sleep is and until we know 
more about it we had better refrain from inducing 


it in our patients except in cases of absolute 
necessity. This being said, let me add that most 
of the accusations against hypnotism are grossly 
exaggerated. So far I know of no well authen- 
ticated proof of a criminal act committed by a 
subject under post-hypnotic suggestion. I have 
never seen a suggestion made under hypnosis 
carried out by the subject which he or she would 
refuse to cany out if made during normal waking 
state. I affirm that if a blackguard should sug- 
gest to a woman under profound hypnosis that 
she should surrender herself to him and she 
should carry out this suggestion, it would mean 
that she would as readily have done so had the 
suggestion been made to her in a normal condition 
of waking life. There is no such thing as blind 
obedience. The subject knows quite well what 
is going on the whole time and what he is willing 
or unwilling to do. Camille, Professor Liegeois 
famous somnambulist in Nancy, who would re- 
main impassive and indifferent when a pin was 
stuck full length through her arm or a piece of 
burning charcoal put in her hand, would blush 
scarlet when the * Prof essor pretended to make a 
gesture as if to disarrange her clothes, and wake 
up instantaneously. This is only one of the 
many baffling contradictions familiar to students 
of hypnotic phenomena and most difficult for 
the outsiders to understand. The fact that the 
person cannot be hypnotized without his or her 
will, must not be overlooked by the alarmists. 
Of course all talk about an unwilling and unaware 
person being hypnotized at a distance is sheer 
nonsense. So also is Psycho-Analysis. 



NORSTROM with his usual kind thoughtful- 
ness had invited me to dinner the evening of 
the fatal day. It was a gloomy dinner, I was 
still smarting under the humiliation of my defeat, 
and Norstrom sat scratching his head in silent 
meditation how he was to raise the three thousand 
francs due to his landlord the next day. Nor- 
strom refused point-blank to accept my explana- 
tion of my disaster bad luck and the most un- 
expected interference of the unforeseen with my 
carefully prepared plans. Norstrom's diagnosis of 
my case was Don Quixottish foolhardiness and 
immeasurable conceit. I said that unless I re- 
ceived that very day some sign from Fortuna, my 
beloved goddess, that she felt sorry for having 
forsaken me and would take me back in her favour, 
I would accept his diagnosis. As I spoke the words, 
my eyes were miraculously transferred from the 
bottle of Medoc between us to Norstrom's gigantic 

" Have you ever gone in for massage? " I asked 

For all answer Norstrom opened his broad, 
honest hands and showed me with great pride a 
pair of thumb balls of the size of an orange. 
There was no doubt of his speaking the truth 



when he said he had done a lot of massage in 
Sweden in former days. 

I told the waiter to bring a bottle of Veuve 
Clicquot, the best he could lay his hands on, and 
raised my glass to drink to my defeat of to-day and 
to his victory of to-morrow. 

" I thought you told me a moment ago you were 
out of cash," said Norstrom looking at the bottle of 

" Never mind," I laughed, " a brilliant idea, 
worth a hundred bottles of Veuve Clicquot, has just 
shot through my brain, have another glass while I 
am working it out." 

Norstrom always used to say that I had two 
different brains working alternatively in my head, 
the well developed brain of a fool and the un- 
developed brain of a sort of genius. He stared 
bewildered at me when I told him I would come 
to Rue Pigalle the next day at his consultation 
hour between two and three to explain it all. 
He said it was the best hour for a quiet talk. I 
was sure to find him alone. We left the Cafe de 
la Regence arm in arm, Nbrstrom still pondering 
over which of my two brains my brilliant idea had 
sprung from, I in tearing spirits, having almost 
forgotten having been turned out of the Salpetriere 
in the morning. 

At two o'clock sharp the following day I 
entered the sumptuous consulting-room of Pro- 
fessor Gueneau de Mussy in Rue du Cirque, 
the famous physician of the Orleans family whose 
exile he had shared now one of the leading 
medical celebrities in Paris. The Professor, who 
had always been very kind to me, asked me what 


he could do for ine. I told him that when I had 
called on him a week ago he had done me the 
honour of introducing me to Monseigneur le Due 
d'Aumale, as he was leaving the room supported 
by his valet and leaning heavily on his stick. 
He had told me that the duke was suffering from 
sciatica, that his knees were giving way, that he 
was almost unable to walk, that he had consulted 
in vain all the leading surgeons of Paris. I said 
I had ventured to come to-day to tell the Pro- 
fessor that unless I was greatly mistaken the duke 
could be cured by massage, A compatriot of 
mine, a great authority on sciatica and massage, 
was actually in Paris, I took the liberty of sug- 
gesting that he should be called in to examine 
the Duke. Gueneau de Mussy, who like most 
French doctors of his time knew next to nothing 
about massage, accepted at once. As the duke 
was leaving for his Chateau de Chantilly the next 
day it was arranged that I should come at once 
with my illustrious compatriot to his hotel in 
the Faubourg St. Germain. Later in the after- 
noon Norstrom and I arrived at the hotel where 
we were met by Professor Gueneau de Mussy. 
Norstrom had been instructed by me to try his 
best to look like a famous specialist on sciatica 
but for God's sake to avoid lecturing on the 
subject. A rapid examination made it clear to 
us both that it was indeed an excellent case for 
massage and passive movements. The duke left 
for the Chateau de Chantilly the next day accom- 
panied by Norstrom. A fortnight later I read in 
the * Figaro' that the famous Swedish specialist 
Doctor Norstrom of world-wide reputation had 


been called to Chantilly to attend the Due 
d'Auinale. Monseigneur had been seen walking 
unaided in the park of his chateau, it was a marvel- 
lous recovery. Doctor Norstrom was also attend- 
ing the Due de Montpensier crippled with gout for 
years and now rapidly improving. 

Then came the turn of Princess Mathilde, soon 
to be followed by Don Pedro of Brazil, a couple 
of Russian Grand Dukes, an Austrian Arch- 
Duchess and the Infanta Eulalia of Spain. 

My friend Norstrom, who after his return from 
Chantilly obeyed me blindly, had been forbidden 
by me to accept any other patients but royal- 
ties until further orders. I assured him this 
was sound tactics, founded on solid psychological 
facts. Two months later Norstrom was back in 
his smart appartment at the Boulevard Hauss- 
mann, his consulting-room crammed with patients 
from all countries, Americans heading the list. 
In the autumn appeared his * Manuel de Massage 
Suedois * by Doctor Gustave. Norstrom, Paris, 
Librairie Hachette, concocted by us with feverish 
haste from different Swedish sources, an American 
edition appearing simultaneously in New- York. 
In the early winter Norstrom was summoned to 
Newport to attend old Mr. Vanderbilt, the fee 
to be fixed by himself. To his dismay I forbade 
him to go, a month later the old multimillionaire 
was shipped to Europe to take his place among 
Norstrom's other patients a living reclame in 
gigantic letters, visible all over the United States. 
Norstrom was hard at work from morning till 
night rubbing his patients with his enormous 
thumbs, his thumb balls gradually assuming the 


proportions of a small melon. Soon he even had 
to give up his Saturday evenings in the Scandi- 
navian club where, streaming with perspiration, he 
used to gallop round the room with all the ladies 
in turn for the sake of his liver. He said there was 
nothing like dancing and perspiring to keep your 
liver going. 

Norstrom's success made me so happy that for 
some time I almost forgot my own disgrace. 
Alas, it all came back to me soon in all its horror, 
first in my dreams, then in my waking thoughts. 
Often just as I was falling to sleep I saw under 
my closing eyelids the ignominious last scene of 
the tragedy before the curtain went down over 
my future. I saw Charcot's terrible eyes flashing 
through the darkness, I saw myself escorted by 
two of his assistants like a criminal between two 
policemen, walking out of the Salpetriere for the 
last time. I saw my own folly, I understood that 
Norstrom's diagnosis " Don Quixottish f oolhardi- 
ness and immeasurable conceit" was right after 
all. Don Quixote again! 

Soon I ceased to sleep altogether, an acute 
attack of insomnia set in, so terrible that it 
nearly made me go off my head. Insomnia does 
not kill its man unless he kills himself sleepless- 
ness is the most common cause of suicide. But It 
kills his joie de vivre, it saps his strength, it sucks 
the blood from his brain and from his heart like 
a vampire. It makes him remember during the 
night what he was meant to forget in blissful 
sleep. It makes him forget during the day what 
he was meant to remember. Memory is the first 


to go overboard, soon friendship, love, sense of 
duty, even pity itself are one after another washed 
away. Despondency alone sticks to the doomed 
ship to steer it on the rocks to total destruction. 
Voltaire was right when he placed sleep on the same 
level as hope. 

I did not go off my head, I did not kill myself. 
I staggered on with my work as best I could, care- 
less, indifferent what happened to myself, and 
what happened to my patients. Beware of a 
doctor who suffers from insomnia! My patients 
began to complain that I was rough and impatient 
with them, many of them left me, many stuck to 
me still and so much the worse for them. Only 
when they were about to die did I seem to wake 
up from my torpor, for I continued to take keen 
interest in Death long after I had lost all interest 
in Life. I could still watch the approach of my 
grim colleague with the same keenness I used to 
watch him with when I was a student at the Salle 
St. Claire, hoping against hope to wrench his 
terrible secret from him. I could still sit the 
whole night by the bedside of a dying patient 
after having neglected him when I might iiave 
been able to save him. They used to say I was 
very kind to sit up like that the whole night when 
the other doctors went away. But what did it 
matter to me whether I sat on a chair by the 
bedside of somebody eke or lay awake in my own 
bed? Luckily for me my increasing diffidence of 
drugs and narcotics saved me from total de- 
struction, hardly ever did I myself take any of 
the numerous sleeping-draughts I had to write 


out the whole day for others. Rosalie was my 
medical adviser. I swallowed obediently tisanes 
after tisanes concocted by her, French fashion, 
from her inexhaustible pharmacopoeia of miracu- 
lous herbs. Rosalie was very worried about me. I 
even found out that often on her own initiative she 
used to send away my patients when she thought 
I looked too tired. I tried to get angry but I had 
no strength left to scold her. 

Norstrom was also very worried about me. 
Our mutual position had now changed, he was 
ascending the slippery ladder of success, I was 
descending. It made b?m kinder than ever, I 
constantly marvelled at his patience with me. He 
often used to come to share my solitary dinner in 
Avenue de Villiers. I never dined out, never asked 
anybody to dinner, never went out in society where 
I used to go a lot before. I now thought it a waste 
of time, all I longed for was to be left alone and 
to sleep. 

Norstrom wanted me to go to Capri for a 
couple of months, for a thorough rest, he felt 
sure I would return to my work all right again. 
I said I would never return to Paris if I went 
there now, I hated this artificial life of a big city 
more and more. I did not want to waste my 
time any longer in this atmosphere of sickness 
and decay. I wanted to go away for good, I 
did not want to be a fashionable doctor any 
longer, the more patients I got the heavier did I 
feel my chains. I had plenty of other interests 
in life than to look after rich Americans and 
silly neurotic females. What was the good of 
his talking about throwing away "my splendid 


opportunities "? He knew quite well I had not 
the stuff in me to become a first-rate doctor. 
He knew equally well that I could neither make 
money nor keep it. Besides I did not want any 
money, I should not know what to do with it, I 
was afraid of money, I hated it. I wanted to 
lead a simple life amongst simple, unsophisticated 
people. If they could neither read nor write, so 
much the better. All I needed was a white- 
washed room with a hard bed, a deal table, a 
couple of chairs and a piano. The twitter of birds 
outside my open window and the sound of the sea 
from afar. All the things I really cared for could 
be got for very little money, I should be quite 
happy in the humblest surroundings as long as I 
had nothing ugly around me. 

Norstroin's eyes wandered slowly round the room 
from the primitive pictures on gold ground on the 
walls to the Florentine Cinquecento Madonna on 
the prie-Dieu, from the Flemish tapestry over the 
door to the lustrous Cafaiolo vases and the frail 
Venetian glasses on the sideboard, to the Persian 
rugs on the floor. 

" I suppose you got this at the Bon Marche," 
said Norstrom staring maliciously at the priceless 
old Bukhara rug under the table. 

" I will give it to you with pleasure in exchange 
for a single night's natural sleep* You are wel- 
come to this unique Urbino vase signed by Maestro 
Giorgio himself if you can make me laugh. I do 
not want all this stuff any more, it says nothing to 
me, I am sick of it. Stop that irritating smile of 
yours, I know what I am saying, I am going to 
prove it to you. 


" Do you know what I did when I was in Lon- 
don last week for that consultation about the lady 
with angina pectoris? Well, I had another consul- 
tation there that same day about another, far worse 
case, a man this time. This man was me or rather 
my double, my Doppelganger, as Heine called 

" 'Look here, my friend,' I said to my Doppel- 
ganger as we were leaving St. James's Club arm 
in arm, 'I want to make a careful examination 
of your inside. Pull yourself together and let us 
stroll slowly up Xew Bond Street from Piccadilly 
to Oxford Street. Xow listen carefully to what 
I say: put on your strongest glasses and look 
attentively in every shop-window, examine care- 
fully every object you see. It is a fine oppor- 
tunity for you who are fond of beautiful things, 
the richest shops of London are here. Every- 
thing money can buy will be displayed before 
your eyes, within the reach of your hand. Anything 
you would like to possess shall be handed over to 
you, all that you have to say is that you would like 
to have it. But only on one condition: what you 
select must remain with you for your own use or 
enjoyment, you cannot give it away/ 

"We turned the corner of Piccadilly, the ex- 
periment began. I watched my Doppelganger 
carefully from the corner of my eye as we strolled 
up Bond Street looking at every shop-window. 
He stopped a moment in front of Agnew, the art 
dealer's, looked carefully at an old Madonna on 
gold ground, said it was a very fine picture, early 
Sienna school, it might be Simone di Martino him- 


self* He made a gesture towards the window- 
pane as if he wanted to grab the old picture, 
then he shook his head dejectedly, put his hand 
in his pocket and moved on. He greatly admired 
a fine old Cromwell clock at Hunt and RoskelTs 
but with a shrug of his shoulders he said he did 
not care what time it was, he could besides guess 
it by looking at the sun. In front of Asprey's 
display of all imaginable bibelots and trinkets of 
silver and gold and precious stones he said he felt 
sick and declared he would smash the window- 
pane and all that was behind it if he had to look 
at all this confounded rubbish any longer. As 
we passed before the tailor to His Royal High- 
ness the Prince of Wales, he said he thought old 
clothes were more comfortable to wear than new 
ones. As we moved on up the street he became 
more and more indifferent and seemed to be 
more interested in stopping to pat the numerous 
dogs trotting behind their owners on the trottoir 
than to explore the shop windows. When we 
reached Oxford Street at last he had an apple in 
one hand and a bunch of lilies of the valley in the 
other. He said he wanted nothing else of all that 
he had seen in Bond Street, except perhaps the 
little Aberdeen terrier who had been sitting wait- 
ing patiently for his master outside Asprey's. 
He began to eat his apple, and said it was a very 
good apple, and looked tenderly at his bunch of 
lilies of the valley saying they reminded him of 
his old home in Sweden. He said he hoped I 
had finished my experiment and asked me if I had 
found out what was the matter with him was it 
the head? 


" I said No, it was the heart. 

" He said I was a very clever doctor, he had 
always suspected it was the heart. He begged me 
to keep my professional secret and not to tell it to 
his friends, he did not want them to know what did 
not concern them. 

" We returned to Paris the next morning. He 
seemed to enjoy the crossing between Dover and 
Calais, he said he loved the sea. Since then he 
has hardly ever left Avenue de Villiers, wandering 
restlessly from room to room as if he could not 
sit down for a minute. He is always hanging 
about in my waiting room, pushing his way 
among the rich Americans to ask me for a pick- 
me-up, he says he is so tired. The rest of the day 
he drives about with me from place to place 
waiting patiently in the carriage with the dog 
while I am visiting my patients. During dinner 
he sits opposite me in the chair you are sitting in 
now, staring at me with his tired eyes, says he has 
no appetite, all he wants is a stiff sleeping-draught. 
In the night he comes and bends his head over 
my pillow, imploring me for God's sake to take 
him away, he says he cannot stand it much longer, 
or . . . 

" Neither can I," Norstrom interrupted angrily, 
" for Heaven's sake stop this confounded nonsense 
about your Doppelganger, mental vivisection is a 
dangerous game for a man who cannot sleep. If 
you go on like this a little longer, both you and your 
Doppelganger will end in Asile St, Anne. I give 
you up. If you wish to chuck your career, if you 
do not want either reputation or money, if you pre- 
fer your whitewashed room in Capri to your luxuri- 


ous apartment in Avenue de Villiers, by all means 
be off, the sooner the better, to your beloved island, 
and be happy there instead of becoming a lunatic 
here! As to your Doppelganger you are welcome 
to tell him from me with all my respects that he is 
a humbug. I bet you anything you like that he 
will soon pick up another Bukhara rug to spread 
under your deal table, a Siennese Madonna and a 
Flemish gobelin to hang on the walls of your white- 
washed room, a Cinquecento Gubbio plate for eat- 
ing your macaroni, and an old Venetian glass for 
drinking your Capri Bianco! " 



had done another miracle, 
I was living in a little contadino house in 
Anacapri, whitewashed and clean, with a sunny 
pergola outside the open windows and friendly, 
simple people all around me. Old Maria Porta- 
Lettere, La Bella Margherita, Annarella and 
Gioconda were all delighted to see me back 
amongst them. Don Dionisio's Capri Bianco was 
better than ever and it dawned upon me more and 
more that the parroco's Capri Rosso was equally 
good. From sunrise till sunset I was hard at 
work in what had been Mastro Vincenzo's gar- 
den, digging the foundations of the huge arches 
of the loggia outside my future home. Mastro 
Nicola and his three sons were digging by my 
side and half-a-dozen girls with laughing eyes and 
swinging hips were carrying away the earth in 
huge baskets on their heads. A yard below the 
surface we had come upon the Roman walls, opus 
reticulatum as hard as granite with nymphs and 
bacchantes dancing on the intonaco of Pompeian 
red. Below appeared the mosaic floor framed 
with vine-leaves of nero antico and a broken 
pavement of beautiful palombino now in the 
centre of the big loggia. A fluted column of 
cipollino, now supporting the little loggia in tibe 



inner courtyard, lay across the pavement where 
it had fallen two thousand years ago, crushing in 
its fall a big vase of Parian marble, the lion- 
headed handle of which is now lying on my table 
Roba di Timberio, said Mastro Nicola picking up 
a mutilated head of Augustus split in two you 
can see it in the loggia to-day. 

When the macaroni in the parroco Don 
Antonio's kitchen were ready the bells in the 
church rang mezzogiorno, we all sat down for a 
hearty meal round an enormous plate of insalata 
di pomidoro, minestrone or macaroni, soon to 
be at work again till sunset. When the bells 
below in Capri rang Ave Maria my fellow workers 
all made the sign of the cross and went away 
with a Buon riposo, Eccellenza, buona notte 
signorino. Their wish was overheard by Sant' 
Antonio, he worked another miracle, I slept 
soundly the whole night, as I had not slept for 
years. I rose with the sun, sprang down to the 
lighthouse for my morning-bath and was back 
in the garden as the others returned to work 
from the five o'clock morning mass. 

None of my fellow workers could read or write, 
none had ever worked at the building of any other 
houses than those of contadini, all more or less 
alike. But Mastro KTicoIa knew how to build an 
arch as did his father and his grandfather from 
untold generations, the Romans had been their 
masters. That this was going to be a different 
house from any they had ever seen before, had 
already dawned upon them, they were all tre- 
mendously interested, nobody knew so far what 
it was going to look like, nor did I. All we had 


to go by was a rough sort of sketch drawn by 
myself with a piece of charcoal on the white 
garden-wall, I cannot draw anything, it looked as 
if drawn by the hand of a child. 

"This is my house," I explained to them, 
"with huge Roman columns supporting its 
vaulted rooms and of course small Gothic columns 
in all the windows. This is the loggia with its 
strong arches, we will decide by and by how many 
arches there will be. Here comes a pergola, over 
& hundred columns, leading up to the chapel, 
never mind the public road running straight 
across my pergola now, it will have to go. Here 
looking out on Castello Barbarossa comes another 
loggia, I do not quite see what it looks like for the 
present, I am sure it will spring out of my head 
at the right moment. This is a small inner court, 
all white marble, a sort of atrium with a cool foun- 
tain in its midst and heads of Roman Emperors 
in niches round the walls. Here behind the 
house we are going to knock down the garden- 
wall and build a cloister something like the 
ILateran cloister in Rome. Here comes a large 
terrace where all you girls will dance the taran- 
tella on summer evenings. On the top of the 
garden we shall blast away the rock and build a 
Greek theatre open on all sides to sun and wind. 
This is an avenue of cypresses leading up to the 
chapel which we will of course rebuild as a chapel 
with cloister stalls and stained glass windows, I 
intend to make it my library. This is a colon- 
nade with twisted Gothic columns surrounding 
the chapel and here looking out over the bay of 
Naples we are going to hoist an enormous Egyp- 


tian sphinx of red granite, older than Tiberius 
himself. It is the very place for a sphinx. I 
do not see for the present where I shall get it 
from but I am sure it will turn up in time." 

They were all delighted and eager to finish the 
house at once. Mastro Nicola wanted to know 
where the water for the fountains was to come 

Of course from Heaven where all the water on 
the island came from. I intended besides to buy 
the whole mountain of Barbarossa and build an 
enormous cistern there for collecting the rain 
water, and supply the whole village with water* 
now so badly needed, it was the least I could do 
for them to repay all their kindness to me. When 
I drew the outlines of the little cloister with my 
stick in the sand I saw it at once just as it stands 
now, encircling with its graceful arcades its little 
court of cypresses with the dancing fawn in its 
midst. When we found the earthenware vase 
full of Roman coins, they became tremendously 
excited, every contadino on the island has been 
on the look-out for il tesoro di Timberio for two 
thousand years. It was only later on when 
cleaning these coins that I found amongst them 
the gold coin fresh as if it had been coined to-day, 
" fleur de coin " indeed, the finest likeness of the 
old Emperor I had ever seen. Close by we found 
the two bronze hoofs of an equestrian statue, one 
still in my possession, the other stolen ten years 
later by a tourist. 

The whole garden was full of thousands and 
thousands of polished slabs of coloured marble, 
africano, pavonazetto, giallo antico, verde antico, 


cipollino, alabastro, all now forming the pave- 
ment of the big loggia, the chapel and some of 
the terraces. A broken cup of agate of exquisite 
shape, several broken and unbroken Greek vases, 
innumerable fragments of early Roman sculpture, 
including, according to Mastro Xicola, la gamba 
di Timberio, dozens of Greek and Roman inscrip- 
tions came to light as we were digging. While 
we were planting the cypresses bordering the 
little lane to the chapel, we came upon a tomb 
with a skeleton of a man, he had a Greek coin in 
his mouth, the bones are still there where we 
found them, the skull is lying on my writing- 

The huge arcades of the big loggia rose rapidly 
out of the earth, one by one the hundred white 
columns of the pergola stood out against the sky. 
What had once been Mastro Vineenzo's house and 
his carpenter workshop was gradually trans- 
formed and enlarged into what was to become my 
future home. How it was done I have never 
been able to understand nor has anybody else 
who knows the history of the San Michele of 
to-day, I knew absolutely nothing about archi- 
tecture nor did any of my f ellowworfcers, nobody 
who could read or write ever had anything to do 
with the work, no architect was ever consulted, 
no proper drawing or plan was ever made, no 
exact measurements were ever taken. It was all 
done aft* occftio as Mastro Nicola called iL 

Often of an evening when the others had gone 
away I used to sit alone on the broken parapet 
outside the little chapel where my sphinx was to 


stand, watching with my mind's eye the castle 
of iny dreams rise out of the twilight. Often as 
I sat there I thought I saw a tall figure in a long 
mantle wandering about under the half -finished 
vaults of the loggia below, carefully examining 
the day's work, testing the strength of the new 
structures, bending over the rudimentary out- 
lines drawn by me on the sand. Who was the 
mysterious overseer? Was it the venerable 
Sant' Antonio himself who had climbed down on 
the sly from his shrine in the church to work 
another miracle here? Or was it the tempter of 
niy youth who twelve years ago had stood by my 
side on this very spot offering me his help in 
exchange for my future? It had become so dark 
that I could no longer see his face but I thought 
I saw the blade of a sword glistening under a red 
mantle. When we returned to work next morn- 
ing just on the point where we had stopped short 
the evening before in great perplexity as to what 
to do and how to do it, all my difficulties seemed 
to have been removed during the night. All 
hesitation had left me. I saw it all in my mind's 
eye clearly as if it had been drawn by an architect 
in its minutest details. 

Maria Porta-Lettere had brought me a couple 
of days before a letter from Rome. I had flung 
it unopened in the drawer of my deal table to 
join a dozen of other unread letters. I had no 
time for the world outside Capri, there is no post 
in Heaven. Then an unheard-of thing happened, 
there came a telegram to Anacapri. Painfully 
signalled two days before from the semaphore at 
Massa Lubrense it had in the course of time 


reached the Capri semaphore by the Arco Xatu- 
rale. Don Ciccio, the semaphorist, after a vague 
guess at its meaning, had offered it in turn to 
various people in Capri. Xobody could under- 
stand a word of it, nobody wanted to have anything 
to do with it. It had then been decided to try it on 
Anacapri and it had been put on the top of Maria 
Porta-Lettere's fish basket. Maria Porta-Lettere, 
who had never seen a telegram before, handed it 
with great precaution to the parroco* II Reverendo 
Don Antonio, unfamiliar with reading anything he 
did not know by heart, told Maria Porta-Lettere to 
take it to the schoolmaster, II Reverendo Don 
Natale, the most learned man in the village. Don 
Natale was certain it was written in Hebrew but 
was unable to translate it on account of the bad 
spelling. He told Maria Porta-Lettere to take it 
to the Reverendo Don Dionisio, who had been in 
Rome to kiss the hand of the Pope and was the right 
man to read the mysterious message. Don 
Dionisio, the greatest authority in the village 
on roba antica, recognized it at once as being 
written in the secret telegraphic code of Timberio 
himself, little wonder nobody could understand 
it. His opinion was confirmed by the farmacista 
but strenuously opposed by the barber who swore 
it was written in English. He shrewdly sug- 
gested that it should be taken to La Bella Mar- 
gherita whose aunt had married un lord inglese. 
La Bella Margherita burst into tears as soon she 
saw the telegram, she had dreamt in the night 
that her aunt was ill, she felt sure the telegram 
was for her and was sent by the lord inglese to 


announce the death of her aunt. While Maria 
Porta-Lettere was wandering from house to house 
with the telegram the excitement in the village 
increased more and more, and soon all work 
ceased. A rumour that war had broken out 
between Italy and the Turks was contradicted at 
noon by another rumour brought on naked 
boy's feet from Capri that the king had been 
assassinated in Rome. The Municipal Council 
was urgently summoned but Don Diego, the 
sindaco, decided to postpone unfolding the flag 
at half-mast until another telegram confirmed the 
sad news. Shortly before sunset Maria Porta- 
Lettere, escorted by a crowd of notables of both 
sexes, arrived with the telegram at San Michele. 
I looked at the telegram and said it was not for 
me. Who was it for? I said I did not know, I 
had never heard of any living or dead person 
afflicted with a similar name, it was not a name, it 
seemed an alphabet in an unknown tongue. 
Wouldn't I try to read the telegram and tell 
what was in it? No, I would not, I hated tele- 
grams. I did not want to have anything to do 
with it? Was it true there was war between 
Italy and the Turks? yelled the crowd under the 
garden wall. 

I did not know, I did not care in the least if 
there was a war as long as I was left in peace to 
dig in my garden. 

Old Maria Porta-Lettere sank down dejectedly 
on the column of cipollino, she said she had been 
on her legs with the telegram since daybreak 
with nothing to eat, she could no more. She had 
besides to go and feed the cow. Would I take 


care of the telegram till to-morrow morning? 
It would not be safe to leave it in her keep- 
ing, with aU the grandchildren playing about 
the room, not to speak of the chickens and 
the pig. Old Maria Porta-Lettere was a great 
friend of mine, I felt sorry for her and for the 
cow. I put the telegram in my pocket, she 
was to resume her wanderings with it the next 

The sun sank into the sea, the bells rang Ave 
Maria, we all went home to our supper. As I 
was sitting under my pergola with a bottle of 
Don Dionisio's best wine before me, a terrible 
thought suddenly flashed through my brain- 
fancy if the telegram was for me after all! Hav- 
ing fortified myself with another glass of wine, 
I put the telegram on the table before me and set 
to work to try to translate its mysterious meaning 
into human language. It took me the whole 
bottle of wine to satisfy myself that it was not for 
me, I fell asleep, my head on the table, the tele- 
gram in my hand. 

I slept late the next morning* There was no 
need for hurry, nobody was working in my garden 
to-day, surely they were all in church since 
morning mass, it was Good Friday. As I strolled 
up to San Michele a couple of hours later, I was 
greatly surprised to find Mastro Nicola with his 
three sons and all the girls, hard at work in the 
garden as usual. Of course they knew how 
anxious I was to go on with the work full speed, 
but I would never have dreamt to ask them to 
work on Good Friday* Indeed it was kind of 
them, I told them I was very grateful. Mastro 


Nicola looked at me with evident surprise and 
said it was no f esta to-day. 

"No holiday to-day I" Did he not know it 
was Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion of 
our Lord Jesus Christ? 

"Va bene," said Mastro Nicola, "but Jesus 
Christ was not a Saint." 

" Of course He was a Saint, the greatest Saint 
of all." 

"But not as great as Sant' Antonio who has 
done more than one hundred miracles. How 
many miracles has Gesu Cristo done? " he asked 
with a malicious look at me. 

Nobody knew better than I that Sant'Antonio 
was not easy to beat on miracles, what greater 
miracle could have been made than bringing me 
back to his village? Avoiding Mastro Nicola's 
question I said that with all honour due to Sant' 
Antonio he was but a man, while Jesus Christ 
was the Son of Our Lord in Heaven who in order 
to save us all from Hell had suffered death on the 
Cross this very day. 

" Non e vero," said Mastro Nicola resuming his 
digging with great vigour. " L'hanno f atto morire 
ieri per abbreviare le funzioni nella chiesa. It 
is not true. They put him to death yesterday to 
shorten the functions in the church." 

I had barely time to recover from this 
announcement when a well known voice called 
ine by name from outside the garden wall. It 
was my friend the newly appointed Swedish 
Minister in Rome. He was furious for not having 
had an answer to his letter, announcing his 
intention to come and spend the Easter with me 


and still more offended that I had not had the 
decency to meet him at the Marina with a donkey 
on the arrival of the post boat as he had begged 
me to do in his telegram. He would never have 
come to Anacapri had he known he would have to 
climb all by himself those seven hundred and 
seventy-seven Phoenician steps leading up to 
my wretched village. Would I have the cheek 
to say I had not got his telegram? 

Of course I got it, we all got it, I nearly got 
drunk over it. He softened a little when I 
handed him the telegram, he said he wanted to 
take it to Rome to show it to the Ministero delle 
Poste e Telegrafi. I snatched it from him, warn- 
ing him that any attempt to improve the tele- 
graphic communications between Capri and the 
mainland would be strenuously opposed by me. 

I was delighted to show my friend over the 
place and to explain to him all the future wonders 
of San Michele with an occasional reference to 
my sketch on the wall in order to make him 
understand it more clearly, which he said was 
much needed. He was full of admiration, and 
when he looked down from the chapel on the fair 
island at his feet he said he believed it was the 
most beautiful view in the world. When I 
pointed out to him the place for the huge Egyp- 
tian sphinx of red granite he gave me an uneasy 
side glance, and when I showed him where the 
mountain was going to be blasted away for the 
erection of my Greek theatre he said he felt 
somewhat giddy and asked me to take him to my 
villa and give him a glass of wine, he wanted to 
have a quiet talk with me. 


His eyes wandered round my whitewashed 
room, he asked me if this was my villa, I answered 
I had never been so comfortable in my life. I 
put a flask of Don Dionisio's wine on the deal 
table, invited him to sit down on my chair and 
threw myself on the bed ready to listen to what 
he had to say. My friend asked me if I had not 
been spending much of my time these last years 
at the Salpetriere among more or less queer and 
unhinged people, somewhat shaky in their upper 

I said he was not far from the truth, but that 
I had given up the Salpetriere altogether. 

He said he was very glad to hear it, he thought 
it was high time, I had better take up some other 
speciality. He was very fond of me, in fact he 
had come down to try to persuade me to return 
at once to my splendid position in Paris instead 
of wasting my time among these peasants in 
Anacapri. Now since he had seen me he had 
changed his mind, he had come to the conclusion 
I was in need of a thorough rest. 

I said I was very glad he approved of my 
decision, I really could not stand the strain any 
longer, I was tired out. 

" In the head? " he asked sympathetically. 

I told him it was useless to ask me to return to 
Paris, I was going to spend the rest of my days 
in Anacapri. 

" You mean to say that you are going to spend 
your life in this wretched little village all alone 
among these peasants who can neither read nor 
write! You, who are a man of culture, who are 
you going to associate with ? " 


" With myself, my dogs and perhaps a monkey." 

" You always say you cannot live without music, 
who is going to sing to you, who is going to play 
to you? " 

" The hirds in the garden, the sea all around 
me. Listen! Do you hear that wonderful 
mezzo-soprano, it is the golden oriole, isn't his 
voice more beautiful than the voice of our cele- 
brated compatriot Christine Xilson or Patti 
herself? Do you hear that solemn andante of 
the waves, isn't that more beautiful than the 
slow movement of Beethoven's Xinth Sym- 
phony? " 

Changing abruptly the conversation, my friend 
asked me who was my architect and in what style 
the house was going to be built? 

I told him I had no architect and that so far I 
did not know in what style the house was going 
to be built, all that would settle itself as the work 
went on. 

He gave me another uneasy side glance and 
said he was at least glad to know I had left Paris 
a rich man, surely it needed a large fortune to 
build such a magnificent villa I had described to 

I opened the drawer of my deal table and 
showed him a bundle of banknotes tucked in & 
stocking. I said it was all I possessed in this 
world after twelve years* hard work in Paris, I 
believe it amounted to something like fifteen 
thousand francs, maybe a little more, maybe a 
little less, probably a little less. 

"Listen, incorrigible dreamer, to the voice of 
a friend," said the Swedish Minister. Tapping 


his forehead with his finger he went on, " you do 
not see straighter than your ex-patients in the 
Salpetriere, the trouble is evidently catching. 
Make an effort to see things as they are in reality 
and not in your dreams. At the rate you are 
going your stocking will be empty in a month's 
time, and so far I saw no trace of a single room to 
live in, I saw nothing but half -finished loggias, 
terraces, cloisters and pergolas. With what are 
you going to build your house? " 

"With my hands." 

" Once established in your house, what are you 
going to live on? " 

" Macaroni." 

"It will cost at least half a million to build 
your San Michele as you see it in your imagination, 
where are you going to get the money from? " 

I was dumbfounded. I had never thought of 
it, it was altogether a new point of view. 

" What on earth am I going to do? " I said at 
last staring at my friend. 

" I will tell you what you are to do," said my 
friend with his resolute voice. " You are to stop 
work at once on your crazy San Michele, clear 
out of your whitewashed room and since you 
decline to return to Paris, you are to go to Rome 
to take up your work as a doctor. Rome is the 
very place for you. You need only spend the 
winters there, you will have the long summers to 
go on with your building. You have got San 
Michele on the brain but you are not a fool, or at 
least most people have not found it out so far. 
You have besides luck in everything you lay your 
hands on. I am told there are forty-four foreign 


doctors practising in Rome, if you pull yourself 
together and set to work in earnest you can beat 
them all with your left hand. If you work hard 
and hand over your earnings to me I will bet you 
anything you like, that in less than five years 
you will have made enough money to finish your 
San Michele and live happily the rest of your life 
in the company of your dogs and your monkeys." 
After my friend had left I spent a terrible night 
wandering up and down in my little contadino 
room like an animal in a cage. I dared not even 
go up to the chapel to say good-night to the sphinx 
of my dreams as was my wont. I was afraid 
that the tempter in the red mantle might once 
more stand by my side in the twilight. When 
the sun rose I rushed down to the lighthouse and 
sprang into the sea. When I swam ashore my 
head was clear and cool like the waters of the 


Two weeks later I was established as a doctor 
in Keats' house in Rome. 


MY very first patient was Mrs. P. the wife of 
the well known English banker in Rome. 
She had been laid up on her back for nearly three 
years after a fall from her horse while riding to 
hounds in the Campagna. All the foreign doctors 
in Rome had been attending her in turn, a month 
ago she had even consulted Charcot, who had 
given her my name, I did not know he was aware 
of my having settled in Rome. As soon I had 
examined her, I understood that the prophecy 
of the Swedish Minister was going to be fulfilled. 
I knew that once more Fortuna stood by my side, 
invisible to all but myself. It was indeed a lucky 
case to start my Roman practice, the patient was 
the most popular lady in the foreign colony. I 
realized that it was the shock and no permanent 
injury to her spine that had paralyzed her limbs 
and that faith and massage would put her on her 
legs in a couple of months. I told her so what 
nobody else had ever dared to tell her and I kept 
my word. She began to improve before I had 
begun the massage. In less than three months 
she was seen by half the fashionable Roman 
society stepping out of her carriage in Villa 
Borghese and walking about under the trees lean- 
ing on her stick. It was looked upon as a mirac- 



ulous achievement, it was in reality a very simple 
and easy case, granted the patient had faith and 
the doctor patience. It opened the doors of every 
house in the numerous British colony in Rome 
and of many Italian houses as well. Xext year 
I became doctor to the British Embassy and had 
more English patients than all the eleven English- 
born doctors put together I leave it to you to 
imagine what were their feelings towards me. An 
old friend of mine from the iScole des Beaux 
Arts, now a pensionnaire in Villa Medici, brought 
me into contact with the French colony. My 
lifelong friend Count Giuseppe Primoli sang my 
praise in the Roman society, a faint echo from 
my luck in Avenue de Villiers did the rest to fill 
my consulting-room with patients. Professor 
Weir-Mitchell, the leading nerve specialist of 
America, with whom I had already had some 
dealings in my Paris days continued to send me 
his surplus of dilapidated millionaires and their 
unstrung wives. Their exuberant daughters who 
had invested their vanity in the first available 
Roman prince, also began to send for me in their 
sombre old palaces to consult me about their 
various symptoms of disillusion. The rest of 
the vast crowd of Americans followed like a flock 
of sheep. The twelve American doctors soon 
shared the fate of their English colleagues. The 
hundreds of models on the steps of the Trinita dei 
Monti under iny windows in their picturesque 
costumes from the mountains round Montecassino 
were all patients of mine. All the flower-sellers 
of Piazza di Spagna threw a little bunch of violets 
into my carriage as I drove past in exchange for 


a cough mixture for some of their innumerable 
babies. My ambulatorio in Trastevere spread 
my fame aU over the poor quarters in Rome. I 
was on my legs from morning till night, I slept 
like a king from night till morning unless I was 
called out, which happened as often as not, it 
mattered nothing to me, I ne^er knew what 
fatigue meant in those days. Soon, to gain time 
and to satisfy my love of horses, I drove about 
Rome full speed in a smart red-wheeled victoria 
drawn by a pair of splendid Hungarian horses, my 
faithful Tappio, the Lapland dog, seated by iny 
side. I can now see that it was maybe a little 
showy and might have been mistaken for reclame 
had I not already then passed the need of any. 
Anyhow, it hit my forty-four colleagues badly in 
the eye, there is no doubt about it. Some of 
them drove about in gloomy looking old coaches 
from the time of Pio Nono, to all appearances as 
if intended to be adapted at a moment's notice as 
hearses for their dead patients. Others walked 
about on foot on their lugubrious errands in long 
frock-coats, their top hats pushed down over 
their foreheads as if in deep meditation whom 
they were to embalm next. They all glared 
savagely at me as I drove past, they all knew me 
by sight. Soon they had to know me in person 
as well, as, whether they wanted it or not, I began 
to be called in consultation by their dying patients. 
I tried my best to observe rigorously the etiquette 
of our profession and to tell their patients they 
were lucky indeed to be in such good hands, but 
it was not always easy. We were indeed a sad 
crew, shipwrecked from various lands and seas, 


landed in Rome with our scanty kit of knowledge. 
We had to live somewhere, there was surely no 
reason why we shouldn't live in Rome as long we 
didn't interfere with the living of our patients. 

Soon it became very difficult for any foreigner 
in Rome to die without my being called in to see 
him through. I r became to the dying foreigners 
what the Illustrissimo Professore Baccelli was to 
the dying Romans the last hope, alas, so seldom 
fulfilled. Another person who never failed to 
turn up on these occasions was Signor Cornacchia, 
undertaker to the foreign colony and director of 
the Protestant Cemetery by Porta San Paolo. 
He never seemed to have to be sent for, he always 
turned up in good time, his big hook nose seemed 
to smell the dead at a distance like the carrion- 
vulture. Correctly dressed in a long frock-coat 
and top hat, in the fashion of a colleague, he was 
always hanging about in the corridor waiting 
for his turn to be called in. He seemed to have 
taken a great liking to me, saluting me most 
cordially with a waving of his top hat whenever 
he met me in the street. He always expressed 
his regrets when I was the first to leave Rome in 
the spring, he always greeted me with out- 
stretched hands and a friendly: Ben tomato, 
Signor Dottore, when I returned in the autumn. 
There had been a slight misunderstanding between 
us the previous Christmas when he had sent me 
twelve bottles of wine with his hopes for a fruitful 
cooperation during the coming season. He 
seemed deeply hurt by my inability to accept his 
gift, he said none of my colleagues had ever 
refused his little token of sympathy. The same 


unfortunate misunderstanding had besides cooled 
down for some time the cordial relations between 
myself and the two foreign chemists. 

One day I was greatly surprised to receive a 
visit from old Doctor Pilkington who had very 
particular reasons for hating me. He said that 
he and his colleagues had so far waited in vain 
for my calling on them according to the un- 
written rules of etiquette. Since the mountain 
had not come to Mahomet, Mahomet had come 
to the mountain. He had nothing in common 
with Mahomet except his long, white, venerable 
beard, he looked more like a false prophet than a 
real one. He said he had come in his quality of 
the doyen of the resident foreign doctors in Rome 
to invite me to become a member of their recently 
formed Society for Mutual Protection with the 
object of putting an end to the war which had 
been raging amongst them for so long. All his 
colleagues had become members except that old 
ruffian Doctor Campbell with whom none of 
them were on speaking terms. The thorny ques- 
tion of their professional fees had already been 
settled to everybody's satisfaction by a mutual 
agreement fixing the minimum fee at twenty 
francs, maximum fee at the discretion of each 
member according to circumstances. No em- 
balmment of man, woman or child was to be 
made for less than five thousand francs. He was 
sorry to have to tell me that the Society had of 
late received several complaints of gross careless- 
ness on my part in collecting my fees and even for 
not having collected any fees at all. Not later 


than yesterday Signer Cornacchia, the lander- 
taker, had confided to him almost with tears in 
his eyes that I had embalmed the wife of the 
Swedish parson for a hundred lire, a most deplor- 
ahle breach of loyalty to all my colleagues. He 
felt sure I would realize the advantages to myself 
of becoming a member of their Society for Mutual 
Protection and would be glad to welcome me 
amongst them at their next meeting to-niorrow. 

I answered I was sorry I could not see the 
advantage either for me or for them of my becom- 
ing a member, that anyhow I was willing to 
discuss with them the fixing of a maximum fee 
but not of a minimum fee. As to the injections 
of sublimate they called embalmment, its cost 
did not exceed fifty francs. Adding another fifty 
for the loss of time, the sum I had charged for 
embalming the parson's wife was correct. I 
intended to earn from the living, not from the 
dead. I was a doctor, not a hyaena, 

He rose from his seat at the word hyaena with 
a request not to disturb myself in case I ever 
wished to call him in consultation, he was not 

I said it was a blow both to myself and to 
my patients, but that we would have to try to 
do without him. 

I was sorry I had lost my temper, and I told 
him so at our next meeting, this time in his 
own house in Via Quattro Fontane. Poor Doctor 
Pilkington had had a slight stroke the very day 
after our interview and had sent for me to 
attend him. He told me the Society for Mutual 
Protection had broken down, they were all at 


daggers drawn again, he felt safer in my hands 
than in theirs. Luckily there was no cause for 
alarm, in fact I thought he looked livelier after 
his stroke than before. I tried to cheer him 
up as well as I could, said there was nothing 
to worry ahout and that I had always believed 
he had already had several slight strokes before. 
He was soon on his legs again, more active than 
ever, he was still flourishing when I left Home. 

Soon afterwards I made the acquaintance of 
his deadly enemy Doctor Campbell, whom he 
had called an old ruffian. Judging from my 
first impression he seemed to have hit upon the 
right diagnosis this time. A more savage-looking 
old gentleman I never saw, wild blood-shot eyes 
and cruel lips, the flushed face of a drunkard, 
all covered with hair like a monkey, and a long, 
unkempt beard. He was said to be over eighty, 
the retired old English chemist told me he 
looked exactly the same thirty years ago when 
he first arrived in Rome. Nobody knew from 
where he came, it was rumoured he had been 
a surgeon in the Southern army in the American 
war. Surgery was his speciality, he was in fact 
the only surgeon among the foreign doctors, 
he was on speaking terms with none of them. 
One day I found him standing by my carriage 
patting Tappio. 

" I envy you that dog," he said abruptly in a 
rough voice. " Do you like monkeys? " 

I said I loved monkeys. 

He said I was his man, he begged me to come 
and have a look at his monkey who had been 


scalded almost to death by upsetting a kettle of 
boiling water. 

We climbed up to his flat at the top of the 
corner house of Piazza Mignanelli. He begged 
me to wait in his salon and appeared a minute 
later with a monkey, in his arms, a huge baboon 
all wrapped up in bandages. 

"I am afraid he is very bad," said the old 
doctor in quite a different voice, tenderly caressing 
the emaciated face of his monkey. "I do not 
know what I shall do if he dies, he is my only 
friend. I have brought him up on the bottle 
since he was a baby, his dear mother died when 
she gave birth to him. She was almost as big 
as a gorilla, you never saw such a darling, she 
was quite human. I do not mind in the least 
cutting my fellow creatures to pieces, I rather 
like it, but I have no more courage left in me to 
dress his scalded little body, he suffers so horribly 
when I try to disinfect his wounds that I cannot 
stand it any longer. I am sure you like animals, 
will you take him in hand? " 

We unwrapped the bandages soaked with blood 
and pus, it was a pitiful sight, his whole body 
was one terrible wound. 

" He knows you are a friend or he would 
not sit as still as he does, he never allows any- 
body but me to touch him. He knows every- 
thing, he has more brains than all the foreign 
doctors in Rome put together. He has eaten 
nothing for four days," he went on, with a tender 
expression in his blood-shot eyes. "Billy, my 
son, won't you oblige your papa by trying this 


I said I wished we had a banana, there was 
nothing monkeys liked better. 

He said he would telegraph at once to London 
for a bunch of bananas, never mind the cost. 

I said it was a question of keeping up his 
strength. We poured a little warm milk into 
his mouth, but he spat it out at once. 

" He cannot swallow any more," groaned 
his master, " I know what it means, he is 

We improvised with a sound a sort of feeding 
tube and this time he kept the milk to the delight 
of the old doctor. 

Billy got slowly better. I saw him every day 
for a fortnight, and I ended by becoming quite 
fond both of him and his master. Soon I found 
him sitting in his specially constructed rocking- 
chair on their sunny terrace by the side of his 
master, a bottle of whisky on the table between 
them. The old doctor was a great believer in 
whisky to steady one's hand before an operation. 
To judge from the number of empty whisky 
bottles in the corner of the terrace his surgical 
practice must have been considerable. Alas! 
they were both addicted to drink, I had often 
caught Billy helping himself to a little whisky 
and soda out of his master's glass. The doctor 
had told me whisky was the best possible tonic 
for monkeys, it had saved the life of Billy's 
beloved mother after her pneumonia. One eve- 
ning I came upon them on their terrace, both blind 
drunk. Billy was executing a sort of negro 
dance on the table round the whisky bottle, 
the old doctor sat leaning back in his chair 


clapping Ms hands to mark the time, singing in 
a hoarse voice: 

" Billy, my son, Billy, my sonny, soooooooonny ! " 
They neither heard nor saw me coming. I 
stared in consternation at the happy family. 
The face of the intoxicated monkey had become 
quite human, the face of the old drunkard looked 
exactly like the face of a gigantic gorilla. The 
family likeness was unmistakable. 

"Billy, my son, Billy, my son, sooooooony!" 
Was it possible? No, of course it was not 
possible but it made me feel quite creepy. . . 

A couple of months later I found the old doctor 
standing again by my carriage talking to Tappio. 
No, thank God, Billy was all right, it was his 
wife who was ill this time, would I oblige him 
by having a look at her? 

We climbed once more up to his fiat, I had so 
far had no idea that he shared it with anybody 
but Billy. On the bed lay a young girl, almost a 
child, with closed eyes, evidently unconscious. 

" I thought you said it was your wife who was 
ill, is this your daughter? " 

No, it was his fourth wife, his first wife had 
committed suicide, the second and the third had 
died of pneumonia, he felt sure this one was go- 
ing the same way. 

My first impression was that he was quite 
right. She had double pneumonia, but an enor- 
mous effusion in the left pleura had evidently 
escaped his notice. I gave her a couple of 
hypodermic injections of camphor and ethe* 
with his dirty syringe, and we started rub- 


bing her limbs vigorously with apparently little 

" Try to rouse her, speak to her! " I said. 

He bent over her livid face and roared in her 

" Sally, my dear, pull yourself together, do get 
well or I shall marry again! " 

She drew a deep breath and opened her eyes 
with a shudder. 

The next day we tapped her pleura, youth 
did the rest, she recovered slowly, as if unwillingly. 
My suspicion of some chronic mischief in her 
lungs soon proved well founded. She was in an 
advanced state of consumption. I saw her every 
day for a couple of weeks, I could not help 
feeling very sorry for her. She was evidently 
in terror of the old man and no wonder, for he 
was horribly rough with her, though perhaps he 
did not mean it. He had told me she came from 
Florida. As autumn came I advised him to 
take her back there the sooner the better, she 
would never survive a Roman winter. He 
seemed to agree, I soon found out that the 
chief difficulty was what to do with Billy. It 
ended by my offering to keep the monkey during 
his absence in my little courtyard under the 
Trinita dei Monti steps, already occupied by 
various animals. He was to be back in three 
months. He never came back, I never knew 
what became of him nor did anybody else. I 
heard a rumour that he had been shot during 
a brawl in a public house but I do not know if it 
was true. I have often wondered who this man 
was and whether he was a doctor at all. I 


once saw him amputate an arm with amazing 
rapidity, he must have known something about 
anatomy but evidently very little about dressing 
and disinfecting a wound, and his instruments 
were incredibly primitive. The English chemist 
had told me he always wrote out the same 
prescriptions often with wrong spelling and wrong 
dose. My own belief is that he was no doctor 
at all but a former butcher or perhaps an orderly 
in an ambulance who had had some good reason 
for leaving his own country* 

Billy stayed with me in Piazza di Spagna till 
the spring when I took him down to San Michele 
where he gave me a hell of a time for. the rest 
of his happy life. I cured him of dipsomania, 
he became in many ways a quite respectable 
monkey. You will hear more about him later on, 


OXE day there appeared in my consulting 
room a lady in deep mourning with a 
letter of introduction from the English chaplain. 
She was of decidedly mature age, of very volu- 
minous dimensions, arrayed in loose flying gar- 
ments of a very unusual cut. Seating herself 
with great precaution on the sofa she said she 
was a stranger in Rome. The death of the 
Reverend Jonathan, her lamented husband, had 
left her alone and unprotected in the world. 
The Reverend Jonathan had been everything to 
her, husband, father, lover, friend 

I looked sympathetically at her round, blank 
face and silly eyes and said I was very sorry for 

The Reverend Jonathan had 

I said I was unfortunately in a great hurry, 
the waiting-room was full of people, what could 
I do for her? She said she had come to put 
herself in my hands, she was going to have a 
baby. She knew that the Reverend Jonathan 
was watching over her from his heaven but she 
could not help feeling very anxious, it was her 
first child. She had heard a lot about me, now, 
since she had seen me, she felt sure she would 
be as safe in my hands as in the hands of the 



Reverend Jonathan. She had always had a 
great liking for Swedes, she had even once been 
engaged to a Swedish parson, love at first sight 
which however had not lasted. She was sur- 
prised to find me so young-looking, just the same 
age as the Swedish parson, she even thought there 
was a certain likeness between us. She had a 
strange feeling as if we had met before, as if we 
could understand each other without words. As 
she spoke she looked at me with a twinkle in her 
eye which would have made the Reverend Jonathan 
feel very uncomfortable had he been watching 
over her just at that moment. 

I hurried to tell her that I was no accoucheur 
but that I felt sure she would be safe in the hands 
of any of my colleagues who, I understood, were 
all specialists in this branch of our profession. 
There was for instance my eminent colleague Doc- 
tor Pilkington. . . . 

No, she wanted me and nobody else. Surely I 
could not have the heart to leave her alone and un- 
protected amongst strangers, alone with a father- 
less child! There was besides no time to lose, the 
baby was expected any day, any moment. I rose 
rapidly from my seat and offered to send for a cab 
to take her at once to Hotel de Russia where she 
was staying. 

What would not the Reverend Jonathan have 
given, had it been granted to him to see their child, 
he who had loved its mother so passionately! 
Theirs had been a love-match if ever there was one, 
a melting into one of two ardent lives, of two har- 
monious souls. She burst into a paroxysm of tears 
ending in a fit of convulsion which shook her whole 


body in a most alarming way. Suddenly she 
turned pale and sat quite still clasping her hands 
protectively over -her abdomen. My fears turned 
into terror. Giovannina and Rosina were in Villa 
Borghese with the dogs, Anna was also away, there 
was no woman in the house, the waiting-room was 
full of people. I sprang from my chair and looked 
attentively at her. All of a sudden I recognized 
that face, I knew it well, it was not in vain I had 
spent fifteen years of my life among hysterical 
women from all lands and of all ages. I told her 
sternly to wipe off her tears, pull herself together 
and listen to me without interruption. I put a 
few professional questions to her, her evasive an- 
swers roused my interest in the Reverend Jonathan 
and his untimely death. Untimely indeed for the 
demise of her lamented husband proved to have 
taken place at a very awkward time of the previ- 
ous year from my point of view as a doctor. I 
told her at last as gently as I could that she was 
not going to have any baby at all. She bounded 
from the sofa, her face scarlet with rage and rushed 
out of the room shrieking at the top of her voice 
that I had insulted the memory of the Reverend 

A couple of days later I met the English chap- 
plain in the Piazza and thanked him for having 
recommended me to Mrs. Jonathan, expressing iny 
regret for not having been able to take charge of 
her. I was struck by the chaplain's reserved man- 
ner. I asked him what had become of Mrs. Jona- 
than. He left me abruptly saying she was in the 
hands of Doctor Jones, she was expecting her baby 
at any moment. 


It all came out in less than twenty-four hours. 
Everybody knew it, all the foreign doctors knew 
it and loved it, all their patients knew it, the two 
English chemists knew it, the English baker in Via 
Babuino knew it, Cook's knew it, all the pensions 
in Via Sistina knew it, in all the English tea-rooms 
people talked of nothing else. Soon every member 
of the British Colony in Rome knew that I had 
committed a colossal blunder and that I had in- 
sulted the Reverend Jonathan's memory. Every- 
body knew that Doctor Jones had not left the 
Hotel de Russie and that the midwife had been 
sent for at midnight. The next day the English 
colony in Rome split into two hostile camps. Was 
there going to be a baby or was there not going 
to be a baby? All the English doctors and their 
patients, the clergy and the faithful congregation, 
the English chemist in Via Condotti, were all cer- 
tain there was going to be a baby. All my patients, 
the rival chemist in Piazza Mignanelli, all the flower- 
sellers in Piazzi di Spagna, all the models on the 
Trinita dei Monti steps under my windows, all the 
dealers in roba antica, all the scalpellini in Via 
Margutta, denied emphatically that there was go- 
ing to be a baby. The English baker was waver- 
ing, My friend the English Consul was, though 
reluctantly, forced to take up his position against 
me for reasons of patriotism. The position of Si- 
gnor Comacdbia, the undertaker, was a particularly 
delicate one, requiring careful handling. There 
was on one hand his unshaken faith in my efficiency 
as his principal collaborator. There was on the 
other hand the undeniable fact that his prospects 
as an undertaker were much brighter if I proved 


to be wrong than if I proved to be right. Soon the 
rumor spread that old Doctor Pilkington had been 
called to the Hotel de Russie in consultation and 
had discovered that there were to be two babies in- 
stead of one. Signor Cornacchia realized that the 
only right policy was to wait and see. When it 
became known that the English chaplain had been 
warned to hold himself in readiness at any hour of 
the day or the night for a christening in articulo 
mortis in view of the prolonged strain, there was 
no more room for hesitation. Signor Cornacchia 
went over to the enemy's camp, bag and baggage, 
abandoning me to my fate. From Signor Cornac- 
chia's professional point of view as an undertaker 
a baby was as good as a full-grown person. But 
why not two babies? And why not also . . .? 

Already when a wet nurse in her picturesque 
costume from the Sabine mountains had been seen 
entering the Hotel de Russie unmistakable signs 
of discouragement had become apparent among my 
allies. When a perambulator arrived from Eng- 
land and was placed in the hall of the hotel, my 
position became almost critical. All the tourist 
ladies in the hotel gave a friendly glance at the 
perambulator as they crossed the hall, all the wait- 
ers were offering bets of two to one on twins, all 
the betting on no baby at all having ceased. I was 
cut by several people at the garden party at the 
English Embassy, where Doctor Pilkington and 
Doctor Jones, once more on speaking terms, formed 
the centre of an animated group of listeners to the 
last news from the Hotel de Russie. The Swedish 
Minister took me aside and told me in an angry voice 


he did not want to have anything more to do with 
me, he had had more than enough of my eccen- 
tricities, to use a mild word. Last week he had 
been told I had called a most respectable old Eng- 
lish doctor a hysena. Yesterday the wife of the 
English chaplain had told his own wife that I had 
insulted the memory of a Scotch parson, If I 
meant to go on in this way, I had better return to 
Anacapri before the whole foreign colony turned 
its back upon me. 

After another week of intense suspense signs of 
reaction began to set in. The betting among the 
waiters now stood at evens, with a few timid offers 
of five lire on no baby at all. When the news 
spread that the two doctors had quarrelled and that 
Doctor Pilkington had retired with the second 
baby under his long frock-coat, all the betting on 
twins came to an end. As time went on the num- 
bers of deserters increased day by day, the English 
chaplain and his congregation still rallying bravely 
round the perambulator. Doctor Jones, the mid- 
wife and the nurse were still sleeping in the hotel 
but Signor Cornacchia warned by his keen scent 
had already abandoned the sinking ship. 

Then came the crash in the shape of a shrewd 
looking old Scotsman who walked one day into my 
consulting-room and sat down on the sofa where 
his sister had sat. He told me he had, the mis- 
fortune to be Mrs* Jonathan's brother. He said 
he had arrived straight from Dundee the evening 
before. He did not seem to have lost his time, 
He had settled his accounts with Doctor Pilking^ 
ton by paying him one third of his bill, he had 
kicked out Doctor Jones, he now asked me for the 


address of a cheap lunatic asylum. The doctor, 
he thought, ought to be locked up in another place. 

I told him that, unfortunately for him, his sis- 
ter's case was not a case for a lunatic asylum. He 
said that if she was not a case for a lunatic asylum 
he did not know who was. The Reverend Jona- 
than had died of old age and softening of the hrain 
over a year ago, she was not likely to have been 
exposed to any further temptations, the crazy old 
thing. She had already made herself the laughing- 
stock of the whole of Dundee in the same way she 
had now made herself the laughing-stock of the 
whole of Rome. He said he had had enough of 
her, he did not want to have anything more to do 
with her. I said neither did I, I had been sur- 
rounded by hysterical females for fifteen years, I 
wanted a rest. The only thing was to take her 
back to Dundee. 

As to her doctor, I am sure he had acted to the 
best of his ability. I understood he was a retired 
Indian army doctor with limited experience in 
hysteria. I believe what we called "phantom 
tumour" was rarely met with in the English army. 
It was not very rare with hysterical women. 

Did I know she had had the cheek to order the 
perambulator from the stores in his name, he had 
had to pay five pounds for it, she could have got 
an excellent second hand one in Dundee for two 
pounds. Could I help him to find a purchaser for 
the perambulator? He did not Want to make any 
profits on it, but he would like to get his money 

I told him that if he left his sister in Rome she 
would be quite capable of ordering another per* 


ambulator from the stores. He seemed much im- 
pressed by this argument. I lent him my carriage 
to take his sister to the station. I have never seen 
them again. 

So far the prophecy of the Swedish Minister had 
been fulfilled, I had been an easy winner. Soon 
however I had to deal with a far more serious rival 
Who had just then taken up his practice in Rome. 
was told and I believe it was true that it was my 
rapid success which had made him give up his 

lucrative practice in and settle in the capital. 

He enjoyed an excellent reputation among his 
countrymen as an able doctor and a charming man. 
He soon became a conspicuous figure in the Roman 
society from which I was vanishing more and more, 
having learned what I wanted to know. He drove 
about in a carriage as smart as my own, he enter* 
tained a lot in his sumptuous apartment in the 
Corso, his rise was as rapid as my own had been. 
He had called on me, we had agreed there was room 
in Rome for both of us, he was always very courte- 
ous to me whenever we met. He had evidently a 
very large practice, chiefly drawn from wealthy 
Americans, many of them flocking to Rome, I was 
told, in order to be under his care- He had his own 
staff of nurses, his own private nursing home out- 
side Porta Pia, I understood at first he was a 
ladies* doctor, but heard later that he was a spe- 
cialist in diseases of the heart. He evidently pos- 
sessed the inestimable gift of inspiring confidence 
in his patients, I never heard his name mentioned 
except with praise and gratitude. It did not sur- 


prise me for, compared with the rest of us, he was 
in fact a rather striking personality, a fine fore- 
head, extraordinarily penetrating and intelligent 
eyes, a remarkable facility for speaking, very win- 
ning manners. He ignored completely his other 
colleagues, but he had called me in consultation a 
couple of times, chiefly for nervous cases. He 
seemed to know his Charcot pretty well, he had 
also visited several German clinics. We nearly 
always agreed as to diagnosis and treatment, I soon 
came to the conclusion that he knew his business 
at least as well as I did. 

One day he sent me a rapidly scribbled note ask- 
ing me to come at once to the Hotel Constanzi for 
a consultation. He seemed more excited than 
usual. He told me in a few rapid words that the 
patient had been under his care for some weeks, 
had at first much benefited by his treatment. These 
last days there had been a change for the worse, 
the action of the heart was unsatisfactory, he would 
like to have my opinion. Above all I was not to 
alarm the patient nor his family. Judge of my 
surprise when I recognized in his patient a man I 
had loved and admired for years as did everybody 
else who had ever met him, the author of c Human 
Personality and its Survival of bodily Death.' His 
breathing was superficial and very difficult, his face 
was cyanotic and worn, only his wonderful eyes 
were the same. He gave me his hand and said he 
was glad I had come at last, he had been longing 
for my return. He reminded me of our last meet- 
ing in London, when I dined with Mm at the So- 
ciety for Psychical Research, how we had been sit- 
ting up the whole night talking about death and 


thereafter. Before I had time to answer, my col- 
league told him he was not to speak for fear of 
another attack and handed me his stethoscope. 
There was no need for a prolonged examination, 
what I had seen was enough. Taking my col- 
league aside I asked him if he had told the family. 
To my intense surprise he did not seem to realize 
the situation, spoke of repeating the injections of 
strychnine at shorter intervals, of trying his serum 
next morning, of sending to the Grand Hotel for 
a bottle of burgundy of a special vintage. I said 
I was against stimulants of any kind, their only 
possible effect might be to rouse once more his 
capacity for suffering, already subdued by merci- 
ful nature. There was nothing else for us to do 
but help hiffl not to suffer too much. As we were 
speaking, Professor William James, the famous 
philosopher, one of his nearest friends, entered the 
room. I repeated to him the family must be told 
at once, it was a question of hours. As they all 
seemed to believe more in my colleague than in 
myself, I insisted that another doctor should be 
called at once in consultation. Two hours later 
arrived Professor Baccelli, the leading consulting 
doctor in Rome. His examination was even more 
summary than my own, his verdict still shorter. 

" II va inourir aujourd'hui," he said in his deep 

William James told me of the solemn pact be- 
tween him and his friend that whichever of them 
was to die first should send a message to the other 
as he passed over into the unknown they both 
believed in the possibility of such a communication. 
He was so overcome with grief that he could not 


enter the room, he sank down on a chair by the 
open door, his note-book on his knees, pen in hand, 
ready to take down the message with his usual 
methodical exactitude. In the afternoon set in the 
Cheyne-Stokes respiration, that heartrending sign 
of approaching death. The dying man asked to 
speak to me. His eyes were calm and serene. 

" I know I am going to die/* he said, " I know 
you are going to help me. Is it to-day, is it to- 
morrow? " 

" To-day." 

" I am glad, I am. ready, I have no fear. I am 
going to know at last. Tell William James, tell 
him . . ." 

His heaving chest stood still in a terrible minute 
of suspense of life. 

" Do you hear me? " I asked bending over the 
dying man, " do you suffer? " 

" No," he murmured, " I am very tired and very 

These were his last words. 

When I went away William James was still sit- 
ting leaning back in his chair, his hands over his 
face, his open note-book still on his knees. The 
page was blank. 

I saw a good deal of my colleague and also of 
several of his patients during that winter. He was 
always talking about the marvellous results of his 
serum, and of another new remedy for angina 
pectoris he had been using of late in his nursing 
home with wonderful success. Upon my telling 
him how interested I had always been in angina 
pectoris he consented to take me to his nursing 


home and show me some of his patients cured by 
the new remedy. I was greatly surprised to recog- 
nize in one of them a former patient of mine, a 
wealthy American lady with all the classical stig- 
mas of hysteria, classified by me as a malade im- 
aginaire, looking remarkably well as she had always 
done. She had been in bed for over a month, at- 
tended night and day by two nurses, temperature 
taken every four hours, hypodermic injections of 
unknown drugs several times a day, the minutest 
details of her diet regulated with utmost scrupu- 
losity, sleeping-draughts at night, in fact, every- 
thing she wanted. She no more had angina pectoris 
than I had. Luckily for her she was as strong as a 
horse and quite capable of resisting any treatment. 
She told me my colleague had saved her life. Soon 
it dawned upon me that the majority of the pa- 
tients in the nursing home consisted of more or 
less similar cases under the same severe hospital 
regime with nothing the matter with them except 
an idle life, too much money and a craving for 
being ill and being visited by the doctor. What 
I saw seemed to me at least as interesting as angina 
pectoris. How was it done, what was his method? 
As far as I could make it out the method consisted 
in putting these women to bed at first sight with a 
stunning diagnosis of some grave ailment and to 
allow them to recover slowly by gradually lifting 
the load of the suggestion from their confused 
brains. To classify my colleague as the most 
dangerous doctor I had ever met was easy. To 
classify him as a mere charlatan I was not pre- 
pared. That I considered him as an able doctor 
was of course quite compatible with his being a 


charalatan the two go well together, the chief 
danger of charlatans lies there. But the charlatan 
operates single-handed like the pick-pocket and 
this man had taken me to his nursing home to dem- 
onstrate his most damaging cases with great pride. 
Of course he was a charlatan, but surely a charla- 
tan of an unusual type, well worth a closer study. 
The more I saw of him the more was I struck with 
the morbid acceleration of his whole mental ma- 
chinery, his restless eyes, the extraordinary rapidity 
of his speech. But it was the way he handled digi- 
talis, our most powerful but most dangerous 
weapon in combating heart diseases, that sounded 
the first note of alarm in my ears. One night I 
received a note from the daughter of one of his 
patients begging me to come at once at the urgent 
request of the nurse. The nurse took me aside 
and said she had sent for me as she feared something 
was wrong, she was feeling very uneasy about what 
was going on. She was right there. The heart 
had been kept too long under digitalis, the patient 
was in immediate danger of his life from the effect 
of the drug. My colleague was just going to give 
him another injection when I snatched the syringe 
from him and read the terrible truth in his wild 
eye. He was not a charlatan, he was a madman. 
What was I to do? Denounce him as a charlatan? 
It would only increase the number of his patients 
and maybe of his victims. Denounce him as a 
lunatic? It would mean the irreparable ruin of 
his whole career. What proofs could I produce? 
The dead could not speak, the living would not 
speak. His patients, his nurses, his friends would 
all side against me, I who of all men would profit 


by his downfall. Do nothing, and leave him in his 
place, a maniac arbiter of life and death? 

After long hesitation I decided to speak to his 
ambassador who was, I knew, on very friendly 
terms with him. The ambassador refused to be- 
lieve me. He had known my colleague for years, 
he had always looked upon him as %& a bl e and reli- 
able doctor, he had himself greatly benefited by his 
treatment and so had his family. He had always 
considered him a very excitable and somewhat ec- 
centric man, but as to the lucidity of his mind he 
was sure he was as sound in his head as we were. 
Suddenly the ambassador burst into one of his 
usual roars of laughter. He said he could not help 
it, it was too funny, he felt sure I would not take 
it amiss, he knew I was not devoid of a certain 
sense of humour. He then told me that my col- 
league had called upon him that same morning to 
ask him for a letter of introduction to the Swedish 
Minister, to whom he had to speak on a very grave 
matter. He thought it his duty to warn the Swed- 
ish Minister to keep an eye on me, he was convinced 
there was something wrong with my head. I 
pointed out to the ambassador that it was a valu- 
able piece of evidence, it was exactly what a lunatic 
might do under the circumstances, the cunning of 
a madman could never be overrated. 

On coming home I was handed an almost illegible 
note from my colleague which I made out as an 
invitation to luncheon the next day the change 
of his handwriting had already attracted my atten- 
tion. I found him in his consulting-room, standing 
before the mirror, staring with his protruding eyes 
at the slight swelling of his throat, the enlargement 


of his thyroid gland I had already noticed. The 
extraordinary rapidity of his pulse made the diag- 
nosis easy. I told him he had Graves' disease. He 
said he had suspected it himself and asked me to 
take him in hand. I told him he was overworked 
and must give up his practice for some time, the 
best thing for him to do was to return to his country 
for a long rest. I succeeded in keeping him in bed 
till the arrival of his brother. He left .Rome a 
week later, never to return again. He died the fol- 
lowing year, I understand, in an asylum. 


WHEN Doctor Pilkington introduced him- 
self to me as the doyen of the foreign doc- 
tors he usurped the title which belonged to another 
man, far superior to the rest of us foreign doctors 
in Rome. Let me write here his real name in full 
letters as it is written in my memory in letters of 
gold old Doctor Erhardt, one of the best doctors 
and one of the most kind-hearted men I have ever 
met. Survival from the vanished Rome of Pio 
Nono, his reputation had stood the wear and tear of 
over forty years of practice in the Eternal City. 
Although over seventy he was still in full posses- 
sion of his mental and physical vigour, day and night 
on the go, always ready to help, rich and poor all 
the same to him. He was the most perfect type I 
have ever seen of the family doctor of bygone 
times, now almost extinct so much the worse for 
suffering humanity. It was impossible not to love 
him, impossible not to trust him* I am sure he had 
never had an enemy during his long life except 
Professor Baccelli. He was a German by birth, 
and had there been many like him in the Fath- 
erland in 1914 there would never have bead a 

That so many people even among his former 
patients would flock to Keats' house to ask advice 



from me when a man like old Erhardt was living 
in the same Piazza will always remain a mystery 
to me. He was the only one of my colleagues I 
used to consult when in doubt, he always turned 
out to be right and I not seldom wrong, but he 
never gave me away, he stood up for me whenever 
he had a chance and he had it often enough. May- 
be he was somewhat unfamiliar with the latest con- 
juring tricks of our profession and kept aloof from 
many of our newest miraculous patent drugs from 
all lands and creeds. But he handled his well 
tested old pharmacopoeia with masterly skill, his 
penetrating eyes detected the mischief wherever it 
lay lurking, there were no secrets left in lung or 
heart once he had put his stethoscope to his old 
ear. 'No modern discovery of any importance es- 
caped his notice. He was keenly interested in 
bacteriology and sero-therapeutics, then almost a 
new science, he knew his Pasteur at least as well 
as I did. He was the first doctor in Italy to ex- 
periment with Behring's anti-diphtheric serum, 
then not out of the experimental stage, and not 
available for the public, now saving the lives of 
hundreds of thousands of children every year. 

I am not likely ever to forget this experiment 
of his. Late one evening I was summoned to the 
Grand Hotel by an urgent message from an 
American gentleman with a letter of introduction 
from Professor Weir Mitchell. I was met in the 
hall by a furious-looking little man who told me 
in great agitation he had just arrived by the train 
de luxe from Paris. Instead of the best suite of 
rooms he had reserved, he and his family had been 
crammed into two small bed-rooms with no sitting- 


room and not even a bath-room. The director's wire 
that the hotel was full had been sent too late and 
never reached him. He had just telegraphed to 
Ritz to protest against this sort of treatment. To 
make matters worse his little boy was ill with a 
feverish cold, his wife had been sitting up with 
him the whole night in the train, would I be kind 
enough to come and see him at once? Two little 
children were lying asleep in one bed, face to face, 
almost lips to lips. The mother looked anxiously 
at me and said the boy had been unable to swal- 
low his milk, she feared he had a sore throat. The 
little boy was breathing laboriously with wide open 
mouth, his face was almost blue. I put the little 
girl still asleep on the mother's bed and told her 
the boy had diphtheria and that I must send for a 
nurse at once. She said she wanted to nurse the 
boy herself. I spent the night scraping off the 
diphtheric membranes from the boy's throat, he 
was almost choking. Towards day-break I sent for 
Doctor Erhardt to help me with the tracheotomy, 
the boy was on the point of suffocation. The ac- 
tion of the heart was already so bad that he dared 
not give him chloroform, we both hesitated to 
operate, we feared the boy might die under the 
knife. I sent for the father, at the mention of 
the word diphtheria he rushed out of the room, 
the rest of the conversation took place through 
the half opened door. He would not hear of an 
operation, spoke of sending for all the leading 
doctors of Rome to have their opinion. I said it 
was unnecessary and besides too late, the decision 
of operation or no operation remained with Erhardt 
and me. I wrapped a blanket round the little 


girl and told him to take her to his room. He 
said he would give a million dollars to save the life 
of his son, I told him it was not a question of dol- 
lars and banged the door in his face. The mother 
remained by the side of the bed, watching us with 
terror in her eyes, I told her that the operation 
might have to be done at any moment, it would 
take at least an hour to get a nurse, she would 
have to help us. She nodded her assent without 
saying a word, her face twitching under the effort 
to keep back her tears, she was a brave and a fine 
woman. While I was putting a clean towel on 
the table under the lamp and preparing the in- 
struments, Brhardt told me that by a strange co- 
incidence he had received that very morning 
through the German Embassy a sample of Beh- 
ring's new anti-diphtheric serum sent to him at his 
request from the laboratory in Marburg. It had, 
as I knew, already been tried with remarkable suc- 
cess in several German clinics. Should we try the 
serum? There was no time for discussion, the boy 
was sinking rapidly, we both thought his chances 
very small. With the consent of the mother we 
decided to inject the serum. The reaction was 
terrific and almost instantaneous. His whole body 
turned black, his temperature sprang up to a hun- 
dred and six, suddenly to drop under normal in a 
violent shivering fit. He was bleeding from his 
nose and from his bowels, the action of the heart 
became very irregular, symptoms of immediate 
collapse set in. None of us left the room during 
the whole day, we expected him to die any moment. 
To our surprise his breathing became easier towards 
evening, the local conditions of the throat seemed 

THE CHEQUE FOB l,000 381 

somewhat better, the pulse less irregular. I begged 
old Erhardt to go home for a couple of hours 
sleep, he said he was too interested in watching the 
case to feel any fatigue. With the arrival of Soeur 
Philippine, the English Blue Sister, one of the 
best nurses I have ever had, the rumor that diph- 
theria had broken out on the top floor had spread 
like wildfire all over the crowded hotel. The direc- 
tor sent me word that the boy must be removed at 
once to a hospital or nursing home. I answered 
that neither Erhardt nor I would take the respon- 
sibility, he would certainly die on the way. Besides 
we knew of no place to take him to, the arrange- 
ments for dealing with such an emergency case 
were in those days hopelessly inadequate. A mo- 
ment later the Pittsburgh millionaire told me 
through the half open door that he had ordered 
the director to clear out the whole top floor at his 
expense, he would rather buy the whole Grand 
Hotel than have his son removed at the peril of 
his life. Towards the evening it became evident 
that the mother had caught the infection. Next 
morning the whole wing of the top floor had been 
evacuated. Even the waiters and the chamber- 
maids had fled. Only Signor Cornacchia, the un- 
dertaker, was slowly patrolling up and down the 
deserted corridor, top hat in hand. Now and 
then the father looked in through the half open 
door almost crazy with terror. The mother 
grew worse and worse, she was removed to the 
adjoining room in charge of Erhardt and an- 
other nurse, I and Sister Philippine remain- 
ing with the boy. Towards noon he collapsed 
and died of paralysis of the heart. The 


dition of the mother was then so critical that we 
dared not tell her, we decided to wait till next 
morning. When I told the father that the body 
of the boy was to be taken to the mortuary of 
the Protestant Cemetery the same evening and 
must be buried in twenty-four hours, he stag- 
gered and nearly fell into the arms of Signor 
Cornacchia who stood bowing respectfully by 
his side. He said his wife would never forgive 
him for leaving the boy in a strange land, he 
must be buried in the family vault in Pitts- 
burgh. I answered it was impossible, it was 
forbidden by the law in such a case as this 
to send the body away. A moment later the 
Pittsburgh millionaire handed me through the 
half open door a cheque for a thousand pounds 
to be used at my discretion, he was willing 
to write out another cheque for whatever sum 
I liked but the body must be sent to America. 
I locked myself up in another room with Si- 
gnor Cornacchia and asked him what would be 
the approximate price for a first class funeral 
and a grave in perpetuo in the Protestant Ceme- 
tery. He said times were hard, there had of 
late been a rise in the price of coffins, aggra- 
vated by an unforeseen falling off in the num- 
ber of clients. It was a point of honour to 
him to make the funeral a success, ten thou- 
sand lire excluding tips would cover everything. 
There was also the gravedigger who, I knew, 
had eight children, the flowers of course would 
be extra. Signor Cornacchia's oblong, feline 
pupils widened visibly as I told him that I 
was authorized to hand him the double of that 


sum if he could arrange to have the body sent 
to Naples and put on board the next steamer 
for America. I wanted his answer in two 
hours, I knew it was against the law, he had 
to consult his conscience. I had already con- 
sulted my own. I was going to embalm the 
body myself that same night and have the 
lead coffin soldered in my presence. Having 
thus satisfied myself that all possible danger of 
infection was excluded I was going to sign a 
death certificate that the cause of death was 
septic pneumonia followed by paralysis of the 
heart, omitting the word diphtheria. Signor 
Cornacchia's consultation with his conscience 
took less time than anticipated, he returned an 
hour later, accepting the bargain on condition 
that half of the sum should be paid in advance 
and without a receipt. I handed him the money. 
An hour later Erhardt and I performed tracheot- 
omy on the mother, there is no doubt that the 
operation saved her life. 

The memory of that night haunts me still 
whenever I visit the beautiful little cemetery by 
Porta San Paolo. Giovanni, the gravedigger, 
stood waiting for me at the gate with a dim 
lantern. I suspected by the way he greeted me 
that he had had an extra glass of wine to steady 
himself for the night's work. He was to be 
my only assistant, I had good reasons for want- 
ing nobody else* The night was stormy and 
very dark with pelting rain. A sudden gust 
of wind blew out the lantern, we had to grope 
our way as best we could in pitch darkness. 


Half-way across the cemetery my foot stumbled 
against a heap of upturned earth, and I fell 
headlong into a half-finished grave, Giovanni 
said he had been digging it the same after- 
noon by order of Signor Cornacchia, luckily 
it was not very deep, it was the grave of a 
small child* 

The embalmment proved to be a difficult and 
even dangerous undertaking. The body was 
already in an advanced state of decomposition. 
The light was insufficient, and to my horror I 
cut myself slightly in the finger. A big owl 
kept on hooting the whole time behind the 
Cestius Pyramid, I remember it well because it 
was the first time the sound seemed to disagree 
with me, me who have always been a great lover 
of owls. 

I was back in the Grand Hotel early in the 
morning. The mother had had a good night, 
her temperature had dropped to normal. Erhardt 
considered her out of danger. It was impossible 
to postpone any longer telling her that her son 
was dead. As neither the father nor Erhardt 
wanted to tell her it fell to me to do it. The 
nurse said she thought she already knew. As 
she had been sitting by her side the mother 
had suddenly waked up from her sleep and tried 
to spring out of bed with a cry of distress, but 
fallen back in a swoon. The nurse thought 
she was dead and was just rushing to call me when 
I came in and said the boy had died that moment. 
The nurse was right in her belief. Before I 
had time to speak the mother looked me straight 


in the eyes and said she knew her son was dead. 
Erhardt seemed quite broken down by the death 
of the boy, he reproached himself for having rec- 
ommended the serum. Such was the integrity and 
the straightforwardness of this fine old man 
that he wanted to write a letter to the father 
almost accusing himself of having caused the 
death of his son. I told him the responsibility 
was mine, I being in charge of the case and that 
such a letter might make the father, already 
half -crazy with grief, go off his head altogether. 
The next morning the mother was carried down 
and put into my carriage and taken to the 
nursing home of the Blue Sisters where I had 
also succeeded in getting a room for her little 
girl and her husband. Such was his fear of 
diphtheria that he presented me with his whole 
wardrobe, two big trunks full of clothes, not to 
speak of his ulster and his top hat. I was 
delighted, second-hand clothes are often more 
useful than drugs. I persuaded him with diffi- 
culty to keep his gold repeater, his pocket aneroid 
is still in my possession. Before leaving the 
hotel the Pittsburgh millionaire settled quite 
unconcerned the gigantic bill, which made me 
stagger. I superintended myself the disinfection 
of the rooms and, remembering my trick in the 
Hotel Victoria in Heidelberg, I spent an hour 
crawling about on my knees in the room the 
boy had died in, detaching the Brussels carpet 
nailed to the floor. That there could be any 
spare room left in my head for thinking of the 
Little Sisters of the Poor at that moment passes 
my uiMJerstaading- I can still see the faces of 


the hotel officials when I had the carpet brought 
down to my carriage and taken to the Munici- 
pal Disinfection Establishment on the Aventine. 
I told the director that the Pittsburgh million- 
aire after having paid for the carpet over three 
times its value, had presented it to me as a 

At last I drove home to Piazza di Spagna. I 
posted on the front door a notice in French 
and English that the Doctor was ill, please 
address yourself to Dr. Erhardt, Piazza di 
Spagna, 28. I made myself a hypodermic injec- 
tion of a triple dose of morphia and sank down 
on the couch in my consulting-room with a 
swollen throat and a temperature of a hundred 
and five, Anna was quite frightened and was 
most anxious to send for Doctor Erhardt. I 
told her I was all right, all I wanted was twenty- 
four hours* sleep, she was not to disturb me unless 
the house was on fire. 

The blessed drug began to spread forgetfulness 
and peace in my exhausted brain, even the haunt- 
ing terror of the cut in my finger dropped out of 
my benumbed thoughts. I was falling asleep. 
Suddenly the front bell rang repeatedly, furiously. 
I heard from the hall the loud voice of a woman 
of unmistakable nationality arguing with Anna in 
broken Italian. 

" The doctor is ill, please address yourself to 
Doctor Erhardt next door." 

No, she must speak at once to Doctor Munthe 
on very urgent business. 

" The doctor is in bed, please go away/* 

No, she must see him at once, "take in my card." 


" The doctor is asleep, please. . . ." 
Asleep, with that terrible voice screaming in the 
hall, not I! 

"What do you want?" 

Anna had not time to hold her back, she lifted 
the curtain to my room, a picture of health, strong 
as a horse, Mrs. Charles W. Washington Long- 
fellow Perkins, Junior. 

"What do you want?" 

She wanted to know if there was any danger of 
her catching diphtheria in the Grand Hotel, she 
had been given a room on the top floor, was it true 
the boy had died on the first floor, she must not 
run any risk. 

" What is the number of your room? n 

" Three hundred and thirty-five." 

" By all means stay where you are. It is the 
cleanest room in the whole hotel, I have dis- 
infected it myself. It is the room the boy 
died in." 

I sank back on the bed, through the bed it 
seemed to me, the morphia set to work once 

The front bell rang again. Again I heard the 
same pitiless voice in the hall telling Anna she 
had just remembered the other question she had 
come to ask me, most important. 

" The doctor is asleep." 

" Throw her downstairs," I roared to Anna, half 
her size. 

No, she would not go, she must ask me that 

" What do you want? " 

"I have broken a tooth, I fear it must be 


pulled out, what is the name of the best dentist 
in Rome?" 

"Mrs. Washington Perkins, Junior, can you 
hear me?" 

Yes, she could hear me quite well. 

" Mrs. Perkins, Junior, for the first time in my 
life I am sorry I am not a dentist, I would just 
love to pull out all your teeth/' 



Little Sisters of the Poor in San Pietro 
JL in Vincoli, about fifty in number and 
most of them French, were all friends of mine, 
and so were many of the three hundred old men 
and women sheltered in the huge building. The 
Italian doctor who was supposed to look after 
all these people never showed me any sign of 
professional jealousy, not even when the Pitts- 
burgh millionaire's carpet from the Grand Hotel, 
duly disinfected, was spread over the ice-cold 
stone floor of the chapel to the greatest delight 
of the Little Sisters. How these Sisters managed 
to provide food and clothing for all their inmates 
was a mystery to me. Their rickety old cart 
crawling about from hotel to hotel to collect 
whatsoever scraps of food could be got, was a 
familiar sight to all visitors of Rome in those 
days. Twenty Little Sisters, two by two, were 
on their feet from morning till night with their 
huge hamper and their moneybox. Two of 
them were generally to be found standing in the 
corner of my hall at the hour of my consulta- 
tion, many of my former patients will no doubt 
remember them. Like all nuns they were very 
jolly and full of fun, and they thoroughly enjoyed 
a little chat whenever there was a chance. They 



were both young and rather pretty the Mother 
Superior had long ago confided to me that old 
and plain nuns were no good for collecting 
money. In return for her confidence I had told 
her that a young and attractive looking nurse 
had a far greater chance of being obeyed by my 
patients than a plain one, and that a sulky 
nurse was never a good nurse. These nuns who 
knew so little of the world at large, knew a lot 
about human nature. They knew at first sight 
who was likely to put something in their money- 
box and who was not. Young people, these 
nuns told me, gave generally more than old 
people, children alas I seldom gave anything 
except when told by their English nurses. Men 
gave more than women, people on foot more 
than people sitting in their carriages. The 
English were their best customers, then came 
the Russians. French tourists there were so few 
about. The Americans and the Germans were 
more reluctant to part with their money, the 
upper class Italians were still worse but the Italian 
poor were very generous. Royalties and clergy of 
all nationalities were as a rule not very good clients. 
The hundred and fifty old men in their care were 
on the whole easy to handle, not so the hundred 
and fifty old women, who were always quarrel- 
ling and fighting with one another. Terrible 
drames passionels were not seldom enacted between 
the two wings of the home, when the Little Sisters 
had to try to extinguish the fires smouldering under 
the cinders to the best of their limited understand- 

The pet of the house was Monsieur Alphonse, 


the tiniest little Frenchman you ever saw, who 
lived behind a pair of blue curtains in the corner 
of the big ward, sixty beds in all. Xone of the 
other beds were provided with curtains, this was 
a privilege granted to Monsieur Alphonse alone 
as being the senior of the whole house. He 
himself said he was seventy-five, the Sisters 
believed he was over eighty, judging from the 
state of his arteries I put him down as not far 
from ninety. He had come there several years 
ago with a small handbag, a threadbare frock 
coat and a top hat, nobody knew from where. 
He spent his days behind his curtains in strictest 
seclusion from all the other inmates, only to 
appear dn Sundays when he strutted off to the 
chapel, top hat in hand* What he did behind 
his curtains the whole day nobody knew. The 
Sisters said that when they brought him his plate 
of soup or his cup of coffee, another privilege, 
he was always sitting on his bed fumbling among 
his bundle of papers in the old bag or brushing 
his top hat. Monsieur Alphonse was very partic- 
ular about receiving visitors. You were sup- 
posed to knock first at the little table by the 
side of the bed. He would then carefully lock 
up all his papers in his bag, call out in his piping 
voice: "Entrez, Monsieur!" and invite you 
with an apologetic waving of his hand to sit 
down by his side on the bed. He seemed to 
enjoy my visits and we soon became great friends. 
All my efforts to know something of his past 
life proved in vain, all I knew was that he was a 
Frenchman but not I should say a Parisian. He 
did not speak a word of Italian and seemed to 


know nothing of Rome. He had not even been 
in St. Peter's, but he meant to go there un de 
ces quatre matins, as soon as he had time. The 
Sisters said he would never go there, he would 
never go anywhere, though he was quite capable 
of trotting about if he wanted to. The real 
reason why he stayed at home on Thursdays, 
the day out for men, was the irremediable 
collapse of his top hat and of his old frock coat 
from constant brushing. 

The memorable day when he was made to try 
on the Pittsburgh Millionaire's top hat and brand 
new frock coat, latest American fashion, opened 
the last chapter in Monsieur Alphonse's life, 
and perhaps the happiest. All the Sisters of 
the wards, even the Mother Superior, were down 
at the entrance door the following Thursday to 
see him off as he stepped into my smart victoria, 
solemnly raising his new top hat to his admirers. 

"Est-il chic!" they laughed as we drove off. 
" On dirait un milord anglais! " We drove down 
the Corso and made a short appearance on the 
Pincio before we stopped at the Piazza di Spagna 
where Monsieur Alphonse had been invited to 
luncheon by me. 

I should like to see the face of the man who 
could have resisted the temptation to make this 
invitation a standing one for every Thursday to 
follow. Sharp at one o'clock on every Thurs- 
day of that winter my victoria deposited Monsieur 
Alphonse at 26 Piazza di Spagna. An hour later 
when my consultation began he was escorted by 
Anna to the waiting carriage for his accustomed 
drive round the Pincio. Then half-an-hour's stop 


at Cafe Aragno where Monsieur Alphonse sat 
down in his reserved corner for his cup of coffee 
and his * Figaro ' with the air of an old ambassador. 
Another half hour of glorious life driving down 
the Corso, eagerly looking out for some of his 
acquaintances from Piazza di Spagna to whom to 
raise his new top hat. Then to vanish again 
behind his blue curtains till the following Thurs- 
day when he began brushing his top hat at day- 
break, according to the Little Sisters. As often 
as not a friend or two dropped in to share the 
luncheon party to the huge delight of Monsieur 
Alphonse. More than one of them will surely 
stiU remember him. Xone of them ever had 
the slightest suspicion of where he came from. 
He looked besides very neat and dapper in his 
long, smart frock coat and in his new top hat 
which he was most reluctant to part with even 
while at table. Not knowing myself what to 
make out of Monsieur Alphonse, I had ended 
by turning him into a retired diplomat. All iny 
friends addressed him as " Monsieur le Ministre," 
and Anna invariably called him " Vostra Eccel- 
lenza," you should have seen his face! Luckily 
he was extremely deaf, and the conversation was 
generally limited to a few polite remarks about 
the Pope or about the scirocco. Anyhow I had 
to keep a vigilant eye and ear upon the proceed- 
ings, ready to interfere at any moment to put 
aside the decanter or to come to his rescue at 
some embarrassing question or some even more 
embarrassing answer after his second glass of 
Frascati. Monsieur Alphonse was an ardent 
royalist, ready to overthrow the French Republic 


at any cost. He was expecting news any day 
from a very confidential source to return to 
Paris at any moment. So far we were on safe 
ground, I had heard many Frenchmen abolish 
the republic. But wher he began to talk family 
matters I had to be very careful lest he should 
let the jealously kept secret of his past out of 
the bag. Luckily I was always warned in time 
by his brother-in-law: mon beau-frere le sous- 
prefet. It was a tacit understanding between 
my friends and me that at the very mentioning 
of this mysterious personage the decanter was 
to be put away and not another drop of wine 
poured in Monsieur Alphonse's glass. 

I remember it quite well, Waldo Storey, the 
well known American sculptor and a particular 
friend of Monsieur Alphonse, was lunching with 
us that Thursday. Monsieur Alphonse was in 
tearing spirits and unusually talkative. Already 
before he had finished his first glass of Frascati 
he was consulting Waldo about raising an army 
of ex-Garibaldians to invade France and march 
on Paris to overthrow the Republic. After all 
it was only a questoin of money, five million 
francs would be ample, he was willing to raise 
one million himself if it came to the worst. 

I thought he looked somewhat flushed, I felt 
sure his brother-in-law was not far away. I gave 
Waldo the usual signal not to give him another 
drop of wine. 

"Mon beau-frere le sous-prefet. . . ." he 

He stopped short as I pushed the decanter 
out of his reach and looked down on his plate 


as he used to do when he was somewhat 

"Never mind," said I, "here's another glass 
of wine to your health, sorry to have vexed 
you, and a has la Republiquel since you want it 

To my surprise he did not stretch out his hand 
towards his glass. He sat quite still staring at his 
plate. He was dead. 

Nobody knew better than I what it would 
mean to Monsieur Alphonse and me, had I fol- 
lowed the usual course and sent for the police 
according to the law. Inspection of the body 
by the Medico-Legal Officer, perhaps a post- 
mortem, intervention of the French Consulate, 
last not least the stealing from the dead of his 
only possession, the secret of his past. Anna was 
sent down to tell the coachman to put up the 
hood, Monsieur Alphonse had had a fainting 
fit, I was going to take him home myself. Five 
minutes later Monsieur Alphonse was sitting by 
my side in the carriage in his usual corner, the 
collar of the Pittsburgh millionaire's ulster well 
pulled over his ears, his top hat deep down on his 
forehead as was his custom. He looked exactly 
as he used to do, only that he looked much smaller 
than in life, all dead people do. 

" By the Corso? " asked the coachman. 

"Yes, of course by the Corso, it is Monsieur 
Alphonse's favourite drive." 

The Mother Superior was somewhat uneasy at 
first, but my certificate of: "death from heart 
failure " dated from the home made it all right 
with the police regulations. In the evening 


Monsieur Alphonse was put in his coffin with 
his bag as a pillow for his old head, its key still 
on its ribbon round his neck. The Little Sisters 
do not ask any questions either of the living or 
of the dead. All they want to know of those 
who come to them for shelter is that they are 
old and hungry. The rest concerns God and 
not them nor anybody else. They know quite 
well that many of their inmates live and die 
among them under assumed names. I wanted 
to let him take his beloved top hat with him in 
the coffin, but the Sisters said it would not do. 
I said I was sorry, I felt sure he would have 
liked it. 

* # * 

One night I was awakened by an urgent 
message from the Little Sisters of the Poor to 
come at once. All the wards of the huge building 
were dark and silent but I heard the Sisters 
praying in the chapel. I was let into a small 
room in the Sisters 5 quarters where I had never 
been before. On the bed lay a nun, still young, 
her face white as the pillow under her head, her 
eyes closed, her pulse hardly perceptible. It was 
La Mere Generate des Petites Soeurs des Pauvres 
who had arrived the same evening from Naples 
on her way back to Paris from a journey of in- 
spection round the world. She was in immediate 
danger of death from a severe disease of the 
heart. I have stood by the bedside of kings 
and queens and of famous men at an hour when 
their lives were at stake, maybe even in my 
hands. But I never felt the responsibility of 


my profession more heavily than I did that night 
when this woman slowly opened her wonderful 
eyes and looked at me: 

"Faites ce que vous pouvez, Monsieur le 
Docteur," she murmured, "car quarante mille 

pauvres dependent de moi." 
# # * 

The Little Sisters of the Poor are toiling from 
morning till night at their work, the most useful 
and the most ungrateful form of charity I know 
of. You need not come to Rome to find them, 
poverty and old age are all over the world and 
so are the Little Sisters of the Poor with their 
empty hamper and their empty moneybox. 
Do put your suit of old clothes in their hamper, 
never mind your size, all sizes will do for the 
Little Sisters of the Poor. Top hats are getting 
out of fashion, you had better give them your 
top hat as well. There will always be in their 
wards an old Monsieur Alphonse, hidden behind 
a pair of blue curtains, busy brushing his broken- 
down top hat, the last vestige of bygone pros- 
perity. Do send him on his day out for a joy- 
ride down the Corso in your smart victoria. It 
is much better for your liver to go for a long 
walk in the Campagna with your dog. Do 
invite him to luncheon next Thursday, there is 
no better stimulant for lost appetite than to 
watch a hungry man having his fill- Give him 
his glass of Frascati wine to help him to forget, 
but put the decanter away when he begins to 

Do put some of your savings in the Little 
Sisters 9 moneybox, even a penny will do, believe 


me you never made a safer investment. Re- 
member what I have written on another page 
of this book what you keep to yourself you 
lose, what you give away you keep for ever. 
Besides you have no right to keep this money to 
yourself, it does not belong to you, money belongs 
to nobody up here. All money belongs to the 
Devil who sits at his counter night and day 
behind his sacks of gold trading with human 
souls. Do not hold on too long to the dirty 
coin he puts in your hand, get rid of it as soon 
as you can or the cursed metal will soon burn 
your fingers, penetrate into your blood, blind 
your eyes, infect your thoughts and harden your 
heart. Put it into the moneybox of the Little 
Sisters, or throw the damned stuff into the 
nearest gutter, it is the very place for it! What 
is the good of hoarding your money, it will soon 
be taken from you in any case. Death has 
another key to your safe. 

The gods sell all things at a fair price, said an 
old poet. He might have added that they sell 
their best goods at the cheapest rate. All that 
is really useful to us can be bought for little- 
money, it is only the superfluous that is put up 
for sale at a high price. All that is really beau- 
tiful is not put up for sale at all but is offered 
us as a gift by the immortal gods. We are 
allowed to watch the sun rise and set, the clouds 
sailing along in the sky, the forests and the fields, 
the glorious sea, all without spending a penny. 
The birds sing to us for nothing, the wild flowers 
we may pick as we are walking along by the road- 


side. There is no entrance fee to the starlit hall 
of the Night. The poor man sleeps better than 
the rich man. Simple food tastes in the long 
run better than food from Ritz. Contentment 
and peace of mind thrive better in a small 
country cottage than in the stately palace in a 
town. A few friends, a few books, indeed a 
very few, and a dog is all you need to have about 
you as long as you have yourself. But you 
should live in the country. The first town was 
planned by the Devil, that is why God wanted 
to destroy the tower of Babel. 

Have you ever seen the Devil? I have. He 
was standing leaning his arms against the parapet 
of the tower of Notre Dame. His wings were 
folded, his head was resting in the palms of his 
hands. His cheeks were hollow, his tongue was 
protruding between his foul lips. Pensive and 
grave he looked down on Paris at his feet. 
Motionless and rigid as if he were of stone, he 
has been standing there for nearly a thousand 
years gloating over the city of his choice as if 
he could not tear his eyes away from what he 
saw. Was this the arch-fiend whose very name 
had filled me with awe since I was a child, the 
formidable champion of evil in the struggle be- 
tween right and wrong? 

I looked at him with surprise. I thought he 
looked far less wicked than I had imagined, I 
had seen worse faces than his. There was no 
glimmer of triumph in those stony eyes, he looked 
old and weary, weary of his easy victories, 
weary of his Hell. 

Poor old Beelzebub! Maybe when all is said 


it is not altogether your fault when things go 
wrong up here in our world. After all it was 
not you who gave life to this world of ours, it 
was not you who let loose sorrow and death 
amongst men. You were born with wings and 
not with claws, it was God who turned you into 
a devil and hurled you to his hell to be the keeper 
of his damned. Surely you would not have 
stood here in storm and rain on the top of the 
tower of Notre Dame for a thousand years had 
you liked your job. I am sure it is not easy to 
be a devil for one who was born with wings. 
Prince of Darkness, why don't you extinguish 
the fire in your subterranean kingdom and come 
up to settle amongst us in a big town believe 
me the country is no place for you as a private 
gentleman of means with nothing to do the 
whole day but eat and drink and hoard your 
money. Or if you must increase your capital 
and try your hand at some new congenial job, 
why don't you open another gambling hell in 
Monte Carlo or start a brothel or become a usurer 
to the poor or the proprietor of a travelling 
menagerie with defenceless wild animals starving 
behind their iron bars! Or if you want a change 
of air why don't you go to Germany and start 
another factory for your latest poison gas! 
Who but you could have directed their blind air 
raid over Naples and dropped their incendiary 
bomb on the home of the Little Sisters of the 
Poor among their three hundred old men and 
women 1 

But will you allow me in return for the advice 
I have given you to ask you a question? Why 


do you put out your tongue like that? I do 
not know how it is looked upon in hell, but, with 
all respect to you, amongst us it is looked upon 
as a sign of defiance and disrespect. Pardon me, 
sire, at whom are you putting out your tongue 
the whole time? 


MANY of my patients of those days will 
surely remember Miss Hall, indeed once 
seen she was not easily forgotten. Great Britain 
alone, Great Britain at its very best, could have 
produced this unique type of the early Victorian 
spinster, six feet three inches, dry and stiff like 
a stick, arida nutrix of at least two unborn 
generations of Scotchmen. During the fifteen 
years I knew Miss Hall I never saw any change 
in her appearance, always the same glorious face 
enshrined by the same curls of faded gold, always- 
the same gaily-coloured dress, always the same 
bower of roses in her hat. How many years of 
uneventful life Miss Hall had spent in various 
second-class Roman pensions in search of adven- 
ture, I do not know. But I know that the day 
she met Tappio and me in the Villa Borghese 
her real mission in life began, she had found 
herself at last. She spent her mornings brushing 
and combing the dogs in my ice-cold back sitting- 
room under the Trinita dei Monti steps only to 
return to her pension for luncheon. At three 
o'clock she sailed forth from Keats' house across 
the Piazza with Giovannina and Rosina, half her 
size, on each side of her in their wooden shoes with 
their red handkerchiefs round their heads and 



surrounded by all my dogs barking joyously in 
anticipation of their walk in Villa Borghese a 
familiar sight to the whole Piazza di Spagna in 
those days. Giovannina and Rosina belonged 
to the San Michele household, better servants I 
have never had, light of hand and foot, singing 
the whole day at their work. Of course nobody 
but I could ever have dreamt of taking these two 
half-tamed Anacapri girls to Rome. It would 
besides never have worked had not Miss Hall 
turned up in time to become a sort of foster- 
mother to them, to watch over them with the 
solicitude of an old hen over her chickens. Miss 
Hall said she could never understand why I did 
not allow the girls to walk about alone in the 
Villa Borghese, she had been walking all over 
Rome by herself for many years without any- 
body ever having taken any notice of her or said 
a word to her. True to her type Miss Hall had 
never succeeded in saying a single word of com- 
prehensible Italian, but the girls understood her 
quite well and were very fond of her, although 
I fear they did not take her more seriously than 
I did. Of me Miss Hall saw very little, and I 
saw even less of her, I never looked at her when 
I could help it. On the rare occasions when 
Miss Hall was invited to be present at my 
luncheon, a huge flower vase was always placed 
on the table between us. Although Miss Hall 
was strictly forbidden to look at me, she never- 
theless managed now and then to pop her head 
over the flower-vase and have a shot at me from 
the corner of her old eye. Miss Hall never 
seemed to understand how beastly selfish and 


ungrateful I was in return for all she did for me. 
Considering her limited means of communication 
Miss Hall was not allowed to ask me any 
questions she succeeded somehow in finding out 
a good deal of what was going on in the house 
and what people I saw. She kept a vigilant eye 
on all my lady patients, she used to patrol the 
Piazza for hours to see them coming in and out 
during my consultations. With the opening of 
the Grand Hotel, Eitz had dealt a final blow 
to the vanishing simplicity of Roman life. The 
last invasion of the barbarians had begun, the 
Eternal City had become fashionable. The huge 
hotel was crammed with the smart set from Lon- 
don and Paris, American millionaires and lead- 
ing rastaqoueres from the Riviera. Miss Hall 
knew all these people by name, she had watched 
them for years through the society columns of 
the 'Morning Post.* As to the English nobil- 
ity Miss Hall was a perfect encyclopedia. She 
knew by heart the birth and the coming of age 
of their sons and heirs, the betrothal and the 
marriage of their daughters, the dresses they 
had worn when presented at Court, their dances, 
their dinner-parties, their journeys abroad. Many 
of these smart people ended by becoming my 
patients whether they wanted it or not, to the 
huge delight of Miss Hall. Others, unable to 
be alone a single moment, invited me to lunch 
or dinner. Others called at Piazza di Spagna 
to see the room Keats had died in. Others 
stopped their carriages in the Villa Borghese 
to pat my dogs with some complimentary words 
to Miss Hall how well they were groomed. Grad- 


ually Miss Hall and I emerged hand in hand from 
our natural obscurity into the higher spheres of 
society. I went out a good deal that winter. 
I had still a lot to learn from these easy-going 
idlers, their capacity for doing nothing, their 
good spirits, their good sleep puzzled me. Miss 
Hall now kept a special diary of the social 
events of my daily life. Beaming with pride 
she trotted about in her best frock leaving my 
cards right and left. The lustre of our ascend- 
ing star grew brighter and brighter, higher and 
higher went our way, nothing could stop us any 
more. One day as Miss Hall was walking with 
the dogs in the Villa Borghese a lady with a 
black poodle on her lap signalled to her to come 
up to her carriage. The lady patted lie Lapland 
dog and said it was she who had given Tappio as 
a tiny puppy to the doctor. Miss Hall felt her 
old knees shaking under her, it was H.R.H. the 
Crown Princess of Sweden! A beautiful gen- 
tleman, seated by her illustrious side, stretched 
out his hand with a charming smile and actually 

" Hullo, Miss Hall, I have heard a lot about you 
from the doctor." 

It was H.R.H. Prince Max of Baden, the 
husband of nobody less than the niece of her 
beloved Queen Alexandra! From that memo- 
rable day Miss Hall abandoned the smart set of 
the Grand Hotel to devote all her spare time to 
royalties, there were at least half-a-dozen of 
them that winter in Rome. She stood for hours 
outside their hotels waiting for a chance to see 
them coming in or out, she watched them with 


bent head driving on the Pincio or in the Villa 
Borghese, she followed them like a detective in 
the churches and the museums. On Sundays 
she sat in the English church in Via Babuino as 
near to the Ambassador's pew as she dared, with 
one eye on her prayer-book and the other on a 
Royal Highness, straining her old ear to catch 
the particular sound of the royal voice in the 
singing of the congregation, praying for the Royal 
Family and their relations in every land with the 
fervour of an early Christian. 

Soon Miss Hall started another diary, entirely 
devoted to our associations with Royalty. The 
previous Monday she had had the honour to 
carry a letter from the doctor to H.R.H. the 
Grand Duchess of Weimar at the Hotel Quirinale. 
The porter had given her an answer adorned 
with the Grandducal crown of Saxe and Weimar. 
The envelope had been graciously presented to 
her by the doctor as a precious souvenir. On 
Wednesday she had been entrusted with a letter 
for H.R.H. the Infanta Eulalia of Spain in the 
Grand Hotel. Unfortunately there was no answer. 
One afternoon, as she was with the dogs in the 
Villa Borghese, Miss Hall had noticed a tall 
lady in black walking rapidly up and down a 
side alley. She recognized her at once as the 
same lady she had seen in the garden of San 
Michele, standing motionless by the Sphinx and 
looking out over the sea with her beautiful, sad 
eyes. As the lady passed before her now, she 
said something to her companion and stretched 
out her hand to pat Gialla, the borzoL Judge 
of Miss Hall's consternation when a detective 


came up to her and told her to move on at once 
with the dogs it was HJ.H. the Empress of 
Austria and her sister Countess Tram! How 
could the doctor have been so cruel not to have 
told her in the summer? Only by a mere acci- 
dent did she know much later that a week after 
the lady's visit to San Michele the doctor had 
received a letter from the Austrian Embassy in 
Rome with an offer to buy San Michele and 
that the would-be purchaser was no less a person 
than the Empress of Austria. Luckily the doc- 
tor had declined the offer, it would indeed be a 
pity if he should sell a place like San Michele 
with such unique opportunities for seeing Royal- 
ties! Had she not last summer for weeks been 
watching at a respectful distance a granddaughter 
of her own beloved Queen Victoria, painting in 
the pergola! Had not a cousin of the Tsar him- 
self been living there for a whole month! Had 
she not had the honour to stand behind the 
kitchen door to see the Empress Eugenie pass 
before her at an arm's length the first time she 
came to San Michele. Had she not heard with 
her own ears H.I.H. say to the doctor that she 
had never seen a more striking likeness to the 
great Napoleon than the head of Augustus the 
doctor had dug up in his garden! Had she not 
several years later heard the commanding voice 
of the Kaiser himself lecturing to his suite on 
the various antiquities and works of art as they 
passed along accompanied by the doctor .who 
hardly opened his mouth! Close to where she 
stood hidden behind the cypresses, HJ.H. had 
pointed to a female torso hajf covered by the ivy 


and told his suite that what they saw was worthy 
of a place of honour in his Museum in Berlin, for 
all he knew it might be an unknown master- 
piece by Phidias himself- Horror-struck Miss 
Hall had heard the doctor say it was the only 
fragment in San Michele that was not good. It 
had been dumped upon him by a well meaning 
patient who had bought it in Naples, it was 
Canova at his worst. To Miss Hall's great regret 
the party had left almost immediately for the 
Marina to embark on their dispatch boat Sleipner 
for Naples. 

A propos of the Empress of Austria I must 
tell you, that Miss Hall was a K.C. of the Imperial 
Order of St. Stefan. This high distinction had 
been bestowed upon Miss Hall one day by me 
when my conscience must have been particularly 
bad, as a reward for her faithful services to me 
and my dogs. Why it had been bestowed upon 
myself I had never succeeded in understanding. 
Miss Hall received this decoration from my hands 
with bent head and tear-filled eyes. She said she 
would take it with her to her grave. I said I 
saw no objection, she was sure to go to Heaven 
anyhow. But that she would take it with her 
to the British Embassy I had not anticipated. 
I had succeeded in obtaining from kind Lord 
Dufferin an invitation for Miss Hall to the 
reception at the Embassy in honour of the Queen's 
birthday, all the English colony in Rome hav- 
ing been invited except poor Miss Hall. Over- 
whelmed with joyful anticipation Miss Hall had 
been invisible for several days, hard at work 
with her toilette. Judge of my consternation 


when on presenting Miss Hall to her ambassador, 
I saw Lord Dufferin screw in his monacle and 
stare speechless at Miss Hall's sternum. Luckily 
Lord Dufferin was not an Irishman for nothing. 
All he did was to take me aside with a roar of 
laughter and make me promise to keep Miss 
Hall out of the sight of his Austrian colleague. 
Miss Hall told me as we drove home that it had 
been the proudest day of her life. Lord Dufferin 
had been most gracious to her, everybody had 
smiled at her, she felt sure her toilette had been 
a great success. 

Yes, it is all very well to make fun of Miss 
Hall! But I should like to know what will be- 
come of Royalty when Miss Hall is no more there 
to keep a diary of their doings, to watch them 
with shaking knees and bent head driving on the 
Pincio and in the Villa Borghese, to pray for 
them in the English church of Via Babuino ? What 
will become of their stars and ribbons when man- 
kind will have outgrown playing with toys? Why 
not give them all to Miss Hall and be done with 
them! There will always remain the V.C., we all 
uncover our heads to courage face to face with 
death. Do you know why the V.C. is so rare in 
the British Army? Because bravery in its highest 
form, Napoleon's courage de la nuit, seldom gets 
the V.C. and because courage unassisted by luck 
bleeds to death unrewarded. 

Next after the V.C. the most coveted English 
decoration is the Garter it would be an evil day 
for England if the order should ever be reversed. 

"I like the Garter," said Lord Melbourne, 
" there is no damned merit about it" 


My friend the Swedish Minister in Rome 
showed me only the other day the copy of a 
letter of mine written nearly twenty years ago. 
The original he said he had forwarded to the 
Swedish Foreign Office for perusal and medita- 
tion. It was a belated answer to a repeated 
official request from the Swedish Legation that 
I should at least have the decency to acknowl- 
edge with thanks the receipt of the Messina 
medal bestowed on me by the Italian Govern- 
ment for something I was supposed to have 
done during the earthquake. The letter ran as 


"My guiding principle in the matter of 
decorations has so far been only to accept a 
decoration if I had done nothing whatsoever to 
deserve it. A glance at the Red Book will make 
you realize the remarkable results of my strict 
adherence to this principle during a number of 
years. The new method suggested by your Ex- 
cellency's letter, i.e. to seek public recognition 
for what little useful work I may have tried to do, 
seems to me a risky undertaking of doubtful prac- 
tical value. It would only bring confusion into my 
philosophy, and it might irritate the immortal gods. 
I slipped unnoticed out of the cholera slums of 
Naples, I mean to do the same from the ruins of 
Messina. I need no commemorative medal to re- 
member what I saw." 

* * * 

As it happens, I must admit that this letter 
is all humbug. The Swedish Minister never re- 


turned my Messina medal to the Italian Govern- 
ment, I have got it somewhere in a drawer, with 
a clear conscience and no greater confusion in 
my philosophy than before. There was in fact 
no reason why I should not accept this medal, 
for what I did in Messina was very little com- 
pared with what I saw hundreds of unnamed 
and unrecorded people do at the peril of their 
lives. I myself was in no peril except that of 
dying from hunger and from my own stupidity. 
It is true that I brought a number of half -suffo- 
cated people back to life by means of artificial 
respiration, but there are few doctors, nurses or 
coastguards who have not done the same for 
nothing. I know that I dragged single-handed 
an old woman from what had been her kitchen 
but I also know that I abandoned her in the 
street screaming for help, with her two legs broken. 
There was indeed nothing else for me to do, until 
the arrival of the first hospital ship no dressing 
material and no medicine whatsoever was obtain- 
able. There was also the naked baby I found 
late one evening in a courtyard, I took it to my 
cellar where it slept peacefully the whole night, 
tucked under my coat, now and then sucking my 
thumb in its sleep. In the morning I took it to 
the nuns of S. Teresa in what remained of then- 
chapel where already over a dozen babies were 
lying on the floor screaming with hunger, as for 
a whole week not a drop of mfTTr could be found 
in Messina. I always marvelled at the number 
of unhurt babies picked out of the ruins or found 
in the streets, it almost looked as if Almighty 
God had shown a little more 


on the grown-up people. The aqueduct having 
been broken, there was no water either except 
from a few stinking wells, polluted by the thou- 
sands of putrefied bodies strewn all over the 
town. No bread, no meat, hardly any macaroni, 
no vegetables, no fish, most of the fishing-boats 
having been swamped or smashed to pieces by 
the tidal wave which swept over the beach, carry- 
ing away over a thousand people, huddled there 
for safety. Hundreds of them were hurled back 
on the sand, where they lay for days rotting in 
the sun. The biggest shark I have ever seen 
the strait of Messina is full of sharks was also 
thrown up on the sand, still alive. I watched 
with hungry eyes when he was being cut open, 
hoping to snatch a slice for myself. I had always 
been told that the flesh of the shark is very good. 
In his belly was the whole leg of a woman in a 
woollen red stocking and a thick boot, amputated 
as by a surgeon's knife. It is quite possible 
that there were other than sharks that tasted 
human flesh during those days, the less said 
about it the better. Of course the thousands of 
homeless dogs and cats, sneaking about the ruins 
during night, lived on nothing else, until they 
were caught and devoured by the living when- 
ever there was a chance. I myself have roasted 
a cat over my spirit lamp. Luckily there were 
plenty of oranges, lemons and mandarins to steal 
in the gardens. Wine was plentiful, the looting 
of the thousands of wine cellars and wine shops 
began the very first day, most people were more 
or less drunk in the evening, myself included, it 
was a real blessing, it took away the fainting 


sensation of hunger, and few people would have 
dared to fall asleep had they been sober. Shocks 
occurred almost every night, followed by the 
roar of falling houses and renewed screams of 
terror from the people in the streets. On the 
whole I slept rather well in Messina, notwith- 
standing the inconvenience of having constantly 
to change my sleeping quarters. The cellars 
were of course the safest place to sleep in if 
one could overcome the haunting fear of being 
entrapped like a rat by a falling wall. Better 
still was to sleep under a tree in an orange grove 
but after two days of torrential rain the nights 
became too cold for a man whose whole outfit 
was in the haversack on his back. I tried to 
console myself as best I could for the loss of my 
beloved Scotch cape by the thought that it was 
probably wrapped round some even more dilapi- 
dated garments than my own. I would how- 
ever not have exchanged them for anything 
better even had I had a chance. Only a very 
brave man would have felt comfortable in a 
decent suit of clothes among all these people 
saved in their nightshirts, maddened by terror, 
hunger and cold he would besides not have 
kept it for long. That robbery from the living 
and the dead, assaults, even murders, occurred 
frequently before the arrival of the troops and 
the declaration of martial law is not to be won- 
dered at. I know of no country where they would 
not have occurred under similar indescribable 
circumstances. To make matters worse, the law 
of irony had willed it that while of the eight 
hundred carabinieri in the Collegio Militare only 


fourteen escaped alive, the first shock opened 
the cells for over four hundred unhurt profes- 
sional murderers and thieves on life sentences in 
the prison by the Capuccini. That these gaol- 
birds, after having looted the shops for clothes 
and the armourers for revolvers, had a real good 
time in what remained of the rich city is certain. 
They even broke open the safe of the Banco di 
Napoli, killing two night watchmen. Such was 
however the terror that prevailed in all minds 
that many of these bandits preferred to give 
themselves up and be locked up in the hull of 
a steamer in the harbour, rather than remain in 
the doomed city, notwithstanding their unique 
opportunities. As far as I am concerned I 
was never molested by anybody,, on the contrary 
they were all touchingly kind and helpful to me 
as they were to each other. Those who had got 
hold of any clothing or food were always glad 
to share it with those who had not. I was even 
presented by an unknown shoplifter with a smart 
quilted ladies 3 dressing-gown, one of the most 
welcome presents I have ever received. One 
evening, in passing by the ruins of a palazzo, I 
noticed a well-dressed man throwing down some 
pieces of bread and a bundle of carrots to two 
horses and a little donkey imprisoned in their 
underground stable, I could just see the doomed 
animals through a narrow chink in the wall. He 
told me he came there twice a day with what- 
ever scraps of food he could get hold of, the 
sight of these poor animals dying of hunger and 
thirst, was so painful to hi that he would rather 
shoot them with his revolver if only he had the 


courage, but he had never had the courage to 
shoot any animal, not even a quail. 1 I looked 
in surprise at his handsome, intelligent and rather 
sympathetic face and asked him if he was a 
Sicilian, he said he was not but that he had 
lived in Sicily for several years. It began to 
rain heavily and we walked away. He asked 
me where I was living and when I answered 
nowhere in particular, he looked at my drenched 
clothes and offered to put me up for the night, 
he was living with two friends close by. We 
groped our way among huge blocks of masonry 
and piles of smashed furniture of all descriptions, 
descended a flight of steps and stood in a large 
underground kitchen dimly lit by an oil-lamp 
under a colour print of the Madonna stuck up 
on the wall. There w;ere three mattresses on 
the floor, Signor Amedeo said I was welcome to 
sleep on his, he and his two friends were to be 
away the whole night to search for some of their 
belongings under the ruins of their houses. I 
had an excellent supper, the second decent meal 
I had had since my arrival at Messina. The 
first had been a couple of days before when I 
had unexpectedly come upon a joyous luncheon 
party in the garden of the American Consulate, 
presided over by my old friend Winthrop Chanler, 
who had arrived the same morning in his yacht 
loaded with provisions for the starving city. I 
slept soundly the whole night on Signor Amedeo's 
mattress, only to be awakened in the morning 

1 It might interest animal lovers to know that these two 
horses and the litfle donkey were got out alive on the seven- 
teenth day after the earthquake and that they recovered. 


by the safe return of my host and his two friends 
from their perilous night expedition perilous 
indeed, as I knew that troops were ordered to 
shoot at sight any person attempting to cany 
anything away, were it even from the ruins of 
his own house. They flung their bundles under 
the table and themselves on their mattresses and 
were all fast asleep when I left. Dead tired 
though he looked, my kind host had not for- 
gotten to tell me that I was welcome to stay 
with him as long as I liked, and of course I 
asked for nothing better. The next evening I 
had supper again with Signor Amedeo, his two 
friends were already fast asleep on their mat- 
tresses, they were all three to be off again for 
their night's work after midnight. A kinder man 
than my host I never saw. When he heard I 
was out of cash, he offered at once to lend me 
five hundred lire, I regret to say I owe him them 
still. I could not help expressing my surprise that 
he was willing to lend his money to a stranger 
of whom he knew nothing. He answered me with 
a smile that I would not be sitting by his side if 
he did not trust me. 

Late the following afternoon as I was crawling 
among the ruins of the Hotel Trinacria in search 
of the corpse of the Swedish Consul, I was sud- 
denly confronted with a soldier pointing his rifle 
at me. I was arrested and taken to the nearest 
post. Having overcome the preliminary diffi- 
culty of locating my obscure country and hav- 
ing scrutinized my permit signed by the prefect, 
the officer in charge let me off, my only corpus 
delicti consisting in a half-carbonized Swedish 


Consular Register. I left the post rather uneasy, 
for I had noticed the somewhat puzzled look in 
the officer's eye when I had told him I was un- 
able to give my exact address, I did not even 
know the name of the street my kind host was 
living in. It was already quite dark, soon I 
started running, for I imagined I heard stealthy 
footsteps behind me as if somebody was follow- 
ing me, but I reached my sleeping quarters with- 
out further adventures. Signor Amedeo and his 
two friends were already asleep on their mat- 
tresses. Hungry as usual I sat down to the 
supper my kind host had left for me on the 
table. I meant to keep awake till they were 
about to start and offer Signor Amedeo to help 
him that night in his search for his belongings. 
I was just saying to myself that it was the least 
I could do in return for his kindness to me when 
I suddenly heard a sharp whistle and the sound 
of footsteps. Somebody was coming down the 
stairs. In an instant the three men asleep on 
the mattresses sprang to their feet. I heard 
a shot, a carabiniere fell headlong down the stairs 
on the floor at my very feet. As I bent rapidly 
over him to see if he was dead I distinctly saw 
Signor Amedeo pointing his revolver at me. The 
same instant the room was full of soldiers, I 
heard another shot, after a desperate struggle 
the three men were overpowerd. As my host 
passed before me, handcuffed, with a stout rope 
tied round his arms and legs, he raised his head 
and looked at me with a wild flash of hatred 
and reproach that made the blood freeze in my 
veins. Half an hour later I was back again at 


the same post, where I was locked up for the 
night. In the morning I was interrogated again 
by the same officer to whose intelligence and 
kindness I probably owe my life. He told me 
the three men were escaped prisoners on life sen- 
tence in the prison by the Capuccini, all " peri- 
colosissimi." Amedeo was a famous bandit who 
had terrorized the country round Girgenti for 
years with a record of eight homicides. It was 
also he and his gang who had broken into the 
Banco di Napoli and killed the watchmen the 
previous night while I was sound asleep on his 
mattress. The three men had been shot at day- 
break. They had asked for a priest, had con- 
fessed their sins and had died fearlessly. The 
police officer said he wished to compliment me 
for the important role I had played in their 
capture. I looked him in the eye and said I 
was not proud of my achievement. I had realized 
long ago that I was not fit to play the role of an 
accuser and still less the role of an executioner. 
It was not my business, maybe it was his, may- 
be it was not, God knew how to strike when He 
wished to strike, He knew how to take a life as 
well as how to give it. 

Unfortunately for me my adventure reached 
the ears of some newspaper correspondents hang- 
ing about outside the Military Zone no news- 
paper correspondents could enter the town in 
those days and for good reason in search of 
sensational news, the more incredible the better; 
and surely this story would seem incredible enough 
to those who were not in Messina during the first 
week after the earthquake* Only a lucky muti- 


lation of my name saved me from becoming fa- 
mous. But when I was informed by those who 
knew the long arm of the Mafia that it would not 
save me from being murdered if I remained in 
Messina, I sailed the next day with some coast- 
guards across the straits to Reggio. 

Reggio itself, where twenty thousand people 
had been killed outright by the first shock, was 
indescribable and unforgetable. Still more ter- 
rifying was the sight of the small coast towns 
strewn among the orange groves, Scilla, Canitello, 
Villa S. Giovanni, Gallico, Archi, San Gregorio, 
formerly perhaps the most beautiful land in Italy, 
now a vast cemetery for more than thirty thou- 
sand dead and several thousand wounded lying 
among the ruins during two nights of torrential 
rain followed by an ice-cold trainontana, with- 
out any assistance whatsoever, and many thou- 
sands of half-naked people running about in the 
streets like lunatics, screaming for food. Further 
south the intensity of the seismic convulsion 
seemed to have reached its climax. In Pellaro, 
for instance, where only a couple of hundred of 
its five thousand inhabitants escaped alive, I 
was unable to distinguish even where the streets 
had been. The church, crammed with terrified 
people, collapsed at the second shock, killing 
them all. The churchyard was strewn with split- 
open coffins, literally shot out of the graves I 
had already seen the same ghastly sight in the 
cemetery of Messina. On the heap of ruins where 
the church had stood sat a dozen women 
shivering in their rags. They did not cry, they 
did not speak, they sat there quite still with bent 


heads and half -closed eyes. Now and then one 
of them lifted her head and stared with vacant 
eyes towards a shabby old priest, gesticulating 
wildly among a group of men close by. Now 
and then he raised his clenched fist with a 
terrific curse in the direction of Messina across 
the waters, Messina, the city of Satan, the Sodom 
and Gomorrah in one, the cause of all their 
misery. Had he not always prophesied that the 

city of the sinners would end with ? A series 

of sussultory and undulatory gesticulations with 
both his hands in the air left no doubt what the 
prophecy had been. Castigo di Dio! Castigo 

I gave the woman next to me with a baby 
in her lap a little loaf of stale bread from my 
haversack. She grabbed it without saying a 
word, handed me instantly an orange from her 
pocket, bit off a piece of the bread to put it in 
the mouth of the woman behind her on the point 
of becoming a mother and started devouring the 
rest ravenously like a starving animal. She told 
me in a low, monotonous voice how she, with 
the baby at her breast, had escaped, she did not 
know how, when the house tumbled down at the 
first "staccata," how she had worked till the 
following day to try to drag out her other two 
children and their father from the wreckage, she 
could hear their moans till it was broad daylight. 
Then came another staccata and all was silent. 
She had an ugly cut across the forehead, but her 
"creatura" the touching word the mothers call 
their babies here was quite unhurt, grazie a 
Dio. As she spoke, she put the baby to the 


breast, a magnificent little boy, entirely naked, 
strong as the infant Hercules, evidently not in 
the least the worse for what had happened. In 
a basket by her side slept another baby under some 
wisps of rotten straw; she had picked it up in 
the street, nobody knew to whom it belonged. 
As I stood up to go, the motherless baby began 
to fret, she snatched it from the basket and put 
it to her other breast. I looked at the humble 
Calabrian peasant woman, strong limbed and 
broad bosomed with the two splendid babies suck- 
ing vigorously at her breasts, and suddenly I 
remembered her name. She was the Demeter of 
the Magna Graecia where she was born, the 
Magna Mater of the Romans. She was Mother 
Nature, from her broad bosom flowed the river 
of life as before over the graves of the hundred 
thousand dead. O Death, where is Thy sting? 
O Grave, where is Thy victory? 

To return to Miss Hall: With all these royal- 
ties on her hands it became increasingly difficult 
for her to control the coming and going of my 
lady patients. My hope to have done with neu- 
rotic women when I left Paris had not been 
fulfilled, my consulting-room in the Piazza di 
Spagna was full of them. Some of them were 
old and dreaded acquaintances from Avenue de 
Villiers, others had been dumped upon me in ever- 
increasing numbers by various worn-out nerve 
specialists in legitimate self-defence. The dozens 
of undisciplined and unhinged ladies of all ages 


that Professor Weir-Mitchell alone used to hand 
over to me would be enough to test the solidity 
of any man's brain and patience. Professor 
Kraft-Ebing of Vienna, the famous author of 
* Psychopathia Sexualis,' was also constantly 
sending me patients of both sexes and of no sex, 
all more or less difficult to handle, specially the 
women. To my great surprise and satisfaction 
I had also been attending of late a good many 
patients with various nervous disorders, un- 
doubtedly addressed to me by the master of the 
Salpetriere, though never with a word in writ- 
ing. Many of these patients were ill defined 
bordeivcases, more or less irresponsible for then- 
acts- Some were nothing less than disguised 
lunatics, up to anything. It is easy to be pa- 
tient with lunatics, I confess to a sneaking liking 
for them. With a little kindness one comes to 
terms with most of them as often as not. But it 
is not easy to be patient with hysterical women, 
and as to being kind to them, one had better 
think it over twice before being too kind to them, 
they ask for nothing better. As a rule you can 
do but little for these patients, at least outside 
the hospital. You can stun their nerve centres 
with sedatives but you cannot cure them. They 
remain what they are, a bewildering complex of 
mental and physical disorders, a plague to them- 
selves and to their families, a curse to their doc- 
tors. Hypnotic treatment, so beneficial in many 
hitherto incurable mental troubles, is as a rule 
contra-indicated in the treatment of hysteri- 
cal women of all ages, hysteria has no age limit. 
It should in any case be limited to Charcot's 


suggestion a 1'etat de veille. It is besides unnec- 
essary, for these helpless women are in any case 
already too willing to be influenced by their doc- 
tor, to depend upon him too much, to imagine he 
is the only one who can understand them, to hero- 
worship him. Sooner or later the photographs 
begin to turn up, there is nothing to be done, 
"il faut passer par la," as Charcot used to say 
with his grim smile. My dislike of photographs 
is of old date, personally I have never submitted 
to be photographed since I was sixteen years 
old, except for the unavoidable snapshots for 
my passport when I served in the Red Cross 
during the war. I have never taken any interest 
even in the photographs of my friends, I can 
at will reproduce their unretouched features on 
my retina with far more exactitude than can 
the best of photographers. For the student of 
psychology an ordinary photograph of a human 
face is besides of scant value. But old Anna was 
tremendously interested in photographs. From 
the memorable day of her promotion from the 
humblest of all the flower sellers in Piazza di 
Spagna to open the door in Keats' house, Anna 
had become a keen collector of photographs. 
Often, after having blown her up too harshly 
for some of her many shortcomings, I used to 
despatch the dove of peace with a photograph 
in her beak to Anna's little dug-out under the 
Trinita dei Monti steps. When at last worn out 
by insomnia, I left Keats' house for good, Anna 
grabbed a whole drawer in my writing table full 
of photographs of all sizes and descriptions. For 
the sake of truth I am bound to admit I was glad 


to get rid of them. Anna is quite innocent, I 
alone am the culprit. On a short visit to London 
and Paris the following spring, I was struck 
by the aloofness, not to say coolness of several 
of my former patients and their relatives. In 
passing through Rome on my return journey to 
Capri I had just time to dine at the Swedish 
Legation. I thought the Minister seemed rather 
sulky, even my charming hostess was unusually 
silent. As I was leaving for the station to catch 
the night train to Naples, my old friend told me 
it was high time I returned to San Michele 
to remain there for the rest of my days among 
my dogs and monkeys. I was not fit for any 
other society, I had broken my own record 
with my last performance when leaving Keats' 
house. In a furious voice he went on to tell 
me that on Christmas Eve on passing through 
Piazza di Spagna, thronged with tourists as 
usual that day, he had come upon Anna in the 
doorway of Keats' house before a table full of 
photographs, yelling to the passers-by in a shrill 

"Venite a vedere questa bellissima signorina 
coi cappelli ricci, ultimo prezzo due lire." 

" Guardate la Signora Americana, guardate 
che collana di perle, guardate che orecchini con 
brillanti, ve la do per due cinquanta, una vera 
combinazione! " 

" Non vi fate scappare questa nobile marchesa, 
tutta in pelliccia! " 

"Guardate questa duchessa, tutta scollata, in 
veste di ballo e con la corona in testa, quattro lire, 
un veroregalo!" 


" Ecco la Signora Bocca Aperta, prezzo ridotto 
una lira e mezzo." 

" Ecco la Signora Mezza Pazza, rideva sempre, 
ultima prezzo una lira! " 

"Ecco la Signora Capa Rossa che puzzava 
sempre di liquore, una lira e mezzo." 

"Ecco la Signorina dell'Albergo di Europa 
che era impazzita per il Signor Dottore due lire e 


"Vedete la Signora Francese che portava via 
il porta sigarette sotto il mantello, povera signora, 
non era colpa sua, non aveva la testa apposto, 
prezzo ristretto una lira." 

" Ecco la Signora Russa che voleva ammazzare 
la civetta, due lire, ne anche un soldo di meno." 

" Ecco la Baronessa Mezzo Uomo Mezza Donna, 
mamma mia, non si capisce niente, il Signor Dot- 
tore diceva che era nata cosi, due lire venti cinque, 

una vera occasioned 

: Ecco la Contessina Bionda che il Signor 
Dottore voleva tanto bene, guardate com'e carina, 
non meno di tre lire! " 

" Ecco la . . ." 

In the midst of all the ladies throned his own 
cabinet photo, in full dress uniform, decorations 
and cocked hat and in the corner: "To A.M* 
from his old friend C.B." Anna said she was 
willing to part with it at the reduced price of 
one lira as she was dealing chiefly in ladies* 
photographs. The Legation had received heaps 
of letters from several of my former patients, 
their fathers, husbands and sweethearts, pro- 
testing indignantly against this scandal. An 
infuriated Frenchman who on his honeymoon in 


Rome had discovered a large photo of his bride 
for sale in the shop window of a barber in Via 
Croce, had appealed for my address, he was going 
to challenge me to a duel with pistols at the frontier. 
The Minister hoped that the Frenchman was a 
good shot, he had besides always predicted that I 
should not die a natural death. 

Old Anna is still selling flowers in Piazza di 
Spagna, you had better buy a bunch of violets from 
her unless you prefer to give her your photograph. 
Times are hard, old Anna has cataracts in 
both eyes. 

So far as I know there is no way of getting 
rid of these patients, any suggestion in that di- 
rection would be welcomed by me. To write to 
their families to come and take them home is 
useless. All their relations have got tired of them 
long ago and will stop at no sacrifice to make them 
remain with you. I well remember a dejected- 
looking little man who entered my consulting- 
room one day after my other patients had gone. 
He sank down on a chair and handed me his card. 
His very name was hateful to me, Mr. Charles 
W. Washington Longfellow Perkins, Junior. He 
apologized for not having answered my two let- 
ters and my cable, he had preferred to come 
himself to make a last appeal to me. I repeated 
my request, I said it was not fair to throw the 
whole burden of Mrs. Perkins, Junior, on me, I 
could do no more. He said neither could he. He 
said he was a business man, he wanted to treat 
the question on business lines, he was willing to 
part with half of his annual income payable in 
advance. I said it was not a question of money, 


I was in need of rest. Did he know that for more 
than three months she had heen bombarding me 
with letters at an average rate of three letters a 
day, and that I had had to stop my telephone 
in the evening? Did he know that she had bought 
the fastest horses in Rome and was following me 
all over the town, that I had had to give up my 
evening walks on the Pincio? Did he know that 
she had taken a flat in the opposite corner house 
of Via Condotti to watch through a powerful tele- 
scope the people who were coming and going in 
and out of my house? 

Yes, it was a very good telescope. Dr. Jenkins 
of St. Louis had had to move to another house 
because of that telescope. 

Did he know that I had been summoned three 
times in the night to the Grand Hotel to pump 
her stomach for an overdose of laudanum? 

He said she always used veronal with Dr. 
Lippincott, he suggested I should wait till the 
morning next time she sent for me, she was al- 
ways very careful about the dose. Any river about 
this town? 

Yes, we called it the Tiber. She had thrown 
herself from Ponte Sant'Angelo last month, a 
policeman had jumped after her and picked 
her up. 

He said it had been unnecessary, she was an 
excellent swimmer, she had kept afloat off New- 
port for over half-an-hour. He was surprised to 
hear that his wife was still in the Grand Hotel, 
as a rule she never remained in any place more 
than a week. 

I said it was her last chance, she had already 


been in all the other hotels of Rome. The director 
had just told me it was impossible to keep her 
any longer, she was quarrelling with all the waiters 
and chambermaids the whole day and was moving 
the furniture in her sitting-room the whole night. 
Could he not stop her allowance, her only chance 
would be if she should have to earn her living by 
hard work. 

She had ten thousand dollars a year in 
her own right and another ten thousand from 
her first husband, who had got out of it 

Couldn't he have her locked up in America? 

He had tried in vain, she was not supposed to 
be mad enough, he would like to know what more 
was wanted of her. Couldn't I have her locked 
up in Italy? 

I feared not. 

We looked at each other with growing sym- 

He told me that according to Dr. Jenkins's sta- 
tistics she had never been in love with the same 
doctor for more than a month, the average was a 
fortnight, my time would soon be up in any case, 
wouldn't I have pity on him and hold out until 
the spring? 

Alas, Dr. Jenkins's statistics proved wrong, 
she remained my chief tormentor during my 
whole stay in Rome. She invaded Capri in the 
summer. She wanted to drown herself in the 
Blue Grotto. She climbed the garden wall of 
San Michele; in my exasperation I nearly threw 
her over the precipice. I almost think I would 
have done it had not her husband warned me 


before we parted that a drop of thousand feet 
would mean nothing to her. 

I had good reason for believing him, only a 
couple of months before a half-crazy German 
girl had jumped over the famous wall of the 
Pincio and escaped with a broken ankle. After 
she had worn out all the resident German doctors 
in turn I had become her prey. It was a par- 
ticularly trying case, for Fraiilein Frida had an 
uncanny facility for writing poetry, her lyrical 
output averaging ten pages a day, all dumped 
on me. I stood it for a whole winter. When 
spring came these cases always get worse at 
springtime I told her silly mother that unless 
she returned with Miss Frida from whence they 
came, I would stop at nothing to have her locked 
up. They were to leave for Germany in the 
morning. I was awakened in the night by the 
arrival of the fire brigade to the Piazza di Spagna, 
the first floor of the Hotel de FEurope next door 
was on fire. Miss Frida in her night-gown spent 
the remainder of the night in nay sitting-room 
writing poetry in tearing spirits. She had got 
what she wanted, they had to remain a whole week 
in Rome for the police investigations and the settle- 
ment of the damage, the fire having broken out 
in their sitting-room. Miss Frida had soaked a 
towel with petroleum, thrown it in the piano and 
set it on fire. 

One day as I was leaving my house I was 
stopped at the door by a spanking-looking 
American girl, the very picture of health, nothing 
wrong with the nerves, this time, thank God. 
I said she looked as if we might postpone the 


consultation till to-morrow, I was in a hurry. 
She said so was she, she said she had come to 
Rome to see the Pope and Doctor Munthe who 
had kept Aunt Sally out of mischief for a whole 
year, a thing which no other doctor had suc- 
ceeded in doing. I offered her a very handsome 
colour-print of Botticelli's Primavera if she 
would take her aunt back with her to America, 
she said she would not hear of it if I offered her 
the original. The aunt was not to be depended 
upon. I do not know if the Keats Society who 
bought the house when I left it has put in new 
doors in the room Keats had died in and where 
I might have died myself had my number been 
up. If the old door is still there, there is also a 
small bullet-hole in the left corner at about the 
height of my head, filled with stucco and painted 
over by myself. 

Another constant visitor to my consulting- 
room was a timid-looking, otherwise quite well 
behaved lady who one day with a pleasant smile 
stuck a long hat-pin in the leg of an Englishman 
next to her on the sofa. The company also 
included a couple of kleptomaniacs who used to 
carry away under their cloaks any object they 
could lay their hands on, to the consternation of 
my servants. Some of my patients were not 
fit at all to be admitted to the waiting-room but 
had to be established in the library or in the 
back sitting-room under the vigilant eye of 
Anna who was wonderfully patient with them, 
much more so than I. To gain time some of 
them were admitted to the dining-room to tell 
me their tales of woe while I was having my 


luncheon. The dining-room opened on a little 
courtyard under the Trinita dei Monti steps, 
transformed by me into a sort of infirmary and 
convalescent home for my various animals. 
Among them was a darling little owl, a direct 
descendant from the owl of Minerva. I had 
found it in the Campagna with a broken wing 
half dead of hunger. Its wing healed, I had 
twice taken it back where I had found it and set 
it free, twice it had flown back to my carriage 
to perch on my shoulder, it would not hear of 
our parting. Since then the little owl was 
sitting on her perch in the corner of the dining- 
room, looking lovingly at me with her golden 
eyes. She had even given up sleeping in the 
day in order not to lose sight of me. When I 
used to stroke her soft little person she would 
half close her eyes with delight and nibble 
gently at my lips with her tiny, sharp beak, as 
near to a kiss as an owl can get. Among the 
patients admitted to the dining-room was a 
very excitable young Russian lady, who was 
giving me lots of trouble. Would you believe 
it, this lady got so jealous of the owl, she used 
to glare at the little bird so savagely that I had 
to give strict orders to Anna never to leave 
these two alone in the room. One day on 
coming in for luncheon Anna told me that the 
Russian lady had just called with a dead 
mouse wrapped in paper. She had caught it 
in her room, she felt sure the owl would like 
it for breakfast. The owl knew better, after 
having bitten off its head, owl fashion, she 
refused to eat it. I took it to the English 


chemist, it contained enough arsenic to kill a 

To give Giovannina and Rosina a treat I had 
invited their old father to come to Rome to spend 
Easter with us. Old Pacciale had been a particu- 
lar friend of mine for many years. In his early 
days he had been a coral-fisher like most of the 
male population of Capri in those days. After 
various vicissitudes he had ended by becoming 
the official gravedigger of Anacapri, a bad job 
in a place where nobody dies as long as he keeps 
clear of the doctor. Even after I had established 
TITTTI and his children in San Michele he would not 
hear of giving up his job as a gravedigger. He had 
a peculiar liking for handling dead people, he 
positively enjoyed burying them. Old Pacciale 
arrived on Easter Thursday in a state of com- 
plete bewilderment. He had never travelled on 
the railway before, he had never been in a town, 
he had never sat in a carriage. He had to get 
up at three o'clock every morning when he went 
down on the Piazza to wash his hands and face 
in Bernini's fountain under my window. After 
having been taken by Miss Hall and the children 
to kiss the bronze toe of St. Peter and to crawl 
up the Scala Santa and by his colleague Giovanni 
of the Protestant Cemetery to inspect the various 
cemeteries of Rome, he said he would not see any- 
thing more. He spent the rest of his time seated 
by the window overlooking the Piazza, in his long 
fisherman's cap of Phrygian cut which he never 
took off his head. He said it was the finest view 


in Borne, nothing could beat Piazza di Spagna. 
So thought I for the matter of that. I asked him 
why he liked Piazza di Spagna best. 

"Because there are always funerals passing," 
explained old Pacciale. 



SPRING had come and gone, it was getting on 
towards Roman summer. The last foreign- 
ers were vanishing from the stuffy streets. The 
marble goddesses in the empty museums were 
enjoying their holidays, cool and comfortable 
in their fig-leaves. St. Peter was taking his siesta 
in the shade of the Vatican gardens. The Forum 
and the Coliseum were sinking back into their 
haunted dreams. Giovannina and Rosina were 
looking pale and tired, the roses in Miss Hall's 
hat were drooping. The dogs were panting, the 
monkeys under the Trinita dei Monti steps were 
yelling for change of air and scenery. My beauti- 
ful little cutter was riding at her anchor off Porto 
d'Anzio, waiting for the signal to hoist sail for my 
island home, where Mastro Nicola and his three 
sons were scanning the horizon from the parapet 
of the chapel for my return. My last visit before 
leaving Rome was to the Protestant Cemetery 
by Porta San Paolo. The nightingales were still 
singing to the dead, who did not seem to mind 
being forgotten in so sweet a place, so fragrant 
with lilies, roses and myrtle in full bloom. Gio- 
vanni's eight children were all down with malaria, 
there was plenty of malaria in the outskirts of 
Rome in those days, Baedeker might say what he 



liked. The eldest girl, Maria, was so emaciated 
by repeated attacks of fever that I told her father 
that she would not survive the summer if she was 
left in Rome. I offered him to let her spend the 
summer in San Michele with my household. He 
hesitated at first, the poor class Italians are most 
reluctant to be separated from their sick children, 
they prefer to let them die at home rather than 
to have them taken to a hospital. He ended by 
accepting when he was told to take his daughter to 
Capri himself to see with his own eyes how well 
she would be looked after by my people. Miss 
Hall with Giovannina and Rosina and all the dogs 
went by rail to Naples as usual. I with Billy the 
baboon, the mongoose and the little owl had a 
glorious sail in the 'yacht. We rounded Monte 
Circeo as the sun was rising, caught the morning 
breeze from the Bay of Gaeta, darted at racing 
speed under the Castle of Ischia and dropped 
anchor at the Marina of Capri as the bells were 
ringing mezzogiorno. Two hours later I was at 
work in the garden of San Michele with hardly 
any clothes on. 

After five long summers' incessant toil from 
sunrise till sunset San Michele was more or less 
finished but there was still a lot to be done in the 
garden. A new terrace was to be laid out behind 
the house, another loggia to be built over the 
two small Roman rooms which we had discovered 
in the autumn. As to the little cloister court I 
told Mastro Nicola we had better knock it down, 
I did not like it any more. Mastro Nicola 
implored me to leave it as it was, we had already 
knocked it down twice, if we kept on knocking 


down everything as soon as it was built, San 
Michele would never be finished. I told Mastro 
Nicola that the proper way to build one's house was 
to knock everything down never mind how many 
times and begin again until your eye told you 
that everything was right. The eye knew much 
more about architecture than did the books. 
The eye was infallible, as long as you relied on 
your own eye and not on the eye of other people. 
As I saw it again I thought San Michele looked 
more beautiful than ever. The house was small, 
the rooms were few but there were loggias, 
terraces and pergolas all around it to watch the 
sun, the sea and the clouds the soul needs more 
space than the body. Not much furniture in 
the rooms but what there was could not be bought 
with money alone. Nothing superfluous, nothing 
unbeautiful, no bric-a-brac, no trinkets. A few 
primitive pictures, an etching of Diirer and a 
Greek bas-relief on the whitewashed walls. A 
couple of old rugs on the mosaic floor, a few books 
on the tables, flowers everywhere in lustrous 
jars from Faenza and Urbino. The cypresses 
from Villa d'Este leading the way up to the chapel 
had already grown into an avenue of stately trees, 
the noblest trees in the world. The chapel itself 
which had given its name to my home had at last 
become mine. It was to become my library. 
Fine old cloister stalls surrounded the white 
walls, in its midst stood a large refectory table 
laden with books and terracotta fragments. On 
a fluted column of giallo antico stood a huge 
Horus of basalt, the largest I have ever seen, 
brought from the land of the Pharaohs by some 


Roman collector, maybe by Tiberius himself. 
Over the writing table the marble head of Medusa 
looked down upon me, fourth century B.C., found 
by me at the bottom of the sea. On the huge 
Cinquecento Florentine mantelpiece stood the 
Winged Victory. On a column of africano by 
the window the mutilated head of Nero looked 
out over the gulf where he had caused his mother 
to be beaten to death by his oarsmen. Over the 
entrance door shone the beautiful Cinquecento 
stained glass window presented to Eleonora Duse 
by the town of Florence and given by her to me 
in remembrance of her last stay in San Michele. 
In a small crypt five feet below the Roman floor 
of coloured marble slept in peace the two monks 
I had come upon quite unaware when we were 
Egging for the foundations of the mantelpiece. 
They lay there with folded arms just as they had 
been buried under their chapel nearly five hun- 
dred years ago. Their cassocks had mouldered 
almost to dust, their dried-up bodies were light 
as parchment, but their features were still well 
preserved, their hands were still clasping their 
crucifixes, one of them wore dainty silver buckles 
on his shoes. I was sorry to have disturbed them 
in their sleep, with infinite precautions I laid 
them back in their little crypt. The lofty arch- 
way with Gothic columns outside the chapel 
looked just right, I thought. Where are such 
columns to be found to-day? Looking down 
from the parapet on the island at my feet, I told 
Mastro Nicola that we were to begin at once the 
emplacement for the sphinx, there was no time to 
lose. Mastro Nicola was delighted, why didn't 


we fetch the sphinx at once, where was it now? 
I said it was lying under the ruins of the forgotten 
villa of a Roman Emperor somewhere on the 
mainland. It had been lying waiting for me 
there for two thousand years. A man in a red 
mantle had told me all about it the first time I 
looked out over the sea from the very spot where 
we now stood, so far I had only seen it in my 
dreams. I looked down on the little white yacht 
on the Marina under my feet and said I was 
quite sure I would find the sphinx at the right 
time. The difficulty would be to bring it across 
the sea, it was in fact far too heavy a cargo for 
my boat, it was all of granite and weighed I 
did not know how many tons. Mastro Nicola 
scratched his head and wondered who was going 
to drag it up to San Michele? He and I of course. 

The two small Roman rooms under the chapel 
were still full of debris from the fallen ceiling 
but the walls were intact to a man's height, the 
garlands of flowers and the dancing nymphs on 
the red intonaco looked as though they had been 
painted yesterday. 

"Roba di Timberio?" asked Mastro Nicola. 

" No," said I looking attentively at the delicate 
pattern of the mosaic floor with its dainty border 
of vine leaves of nero antico, " this floor was made 
before his time, it dates from Augustus. The 
old emperor was also a great lover of Capri, he 
started building a villa here, God knows where, 
but he died at Nola on his return to Rome before 
it was finished. He was a great man and a great 
Emperor but, mark my word, Tiberius was the 
greatest of them all." 


The pergola was already covered with young 
vines; roses, honeysuckle and Epomea were 
clustering round the long row of white columns. 
Among the cypresses in the little cloister court 
stood the Dancing Faun on his column of cipol- 
lino, in the centre of the big loggia sat the bronze 
Hermes from Herculaneum. In the little marble 
court outside the dining-room all ablaze with 
sun, sat Billy the baboon, hard at work catching 
Tappio's fleas, surrounded by all the other dogs 
drowsily awaiting their turn for the customary 
completion of their morning toilette. Billy had a 
wonderful hand for catching fleas, no jumping or 
crawling thing escaped his vigilant eye, the dogs 
knew it quite well and enjoyed the sport as much 
as he did. It was the only sport tolerated by the 
law of San Michele. Death was fulmineous and 
probably painless, Billy had swallowed his prey 
before there was time to realize the danger. 
Billy had given up drinking and become a respect- 
able monkey in the full bloom of manhood, alarm- 
ingly like a human being, on the whole well be- 
haved though somewhat boisterous when I was 
out of sight, making fun of everybody. I often 
wondered what the dogs really thought of him at 
the back of their heads. I am not sure they were 
not afraid of him, they generally turned their 
heads away when he looked at them. Billy was 
afraid of nobody but me, I could always see by 
his face when he had a bad conscience which was 
generally the case. Yes, I think he was afraid 
of the mongoose who was always sneaking about 
the garden on restless feet, silent and inquisitive. 
There was something very manly about Billy, he 


could not help it, his Maker had made him so. 
Billy was not at all insensible to the attractions 
of the other sex. Billy had taken a great liking 
at first sight to Elisa, the wife of my gardener, 
who stood for hours staring at him with fascinated 
eyes, where he sat in his private fig-tree smacking 
his lips at her. Elisa was expecting a baby as 
usual, I had never known her otherwise. Some- 
how I did not quite like this sudden friendship 
with Billyj I had even told her she had better 
look at somebody else. 

Old Pacciale had gone down to the Marina to 
receive his colleague, the gravedigger of Rome, 
who was to arrive at noon with his daughter by 
the Sorrento sailing boat. As he had to be back 
at his job at the Protestant Cemetery the eve of 
the following day, he was to be taken in the after- 
noon to inspect the two cemeteries of the island. 
In the evening my household was to offer a dinner 
with vino a volonta on the garden terrace to their 
distinguished visitor from Rome. 

The bells in the chapel rang Ave Maria. I had 
been on my legs since five o'clock in the morning 
hard at work in the blazing sun. Tired and 
hungry I sat down to my frugal supper on the 
upper loggia, grateful for another happy day. 
On the garden terrace below sat my guests in 
their Sunday clothes, round a gigantic plate of 
macaroni and a huge piretto of San Michele's 
best wine. In the place of honour at the head of 
the table sat the gravedigger of Rome with the 
two gravediggers of Capri, one on each side of 
him. Next sat Baldassare my gardener and 
Gaetano my sailor, and Mastro Nicola with his 


three sons, all talking at the top of their voices. 
Hound the table stood their womenfolk in admira- 
tion, according to Neapolitan custom. The 
sun was slowly sinking over the sea. For the 
first time in my life it seemed a relief to me when 
it disappeared at last behind Ischia. Why was I 
longing for the twilight and the stars, I the sun- 
worshipper, who had been afraid of darkness and 
night ever since I was a child? Why had my 
eyes been burning so when I looked up to the 
glorious sun god? Was he angry with me, was 
he going to turn his face away from me and leave 
me in the dark, I who was working on my knees 
to build him another sanctuary? Was it true 
what the tempter in the red mantle had told me 
twenty years ago when I looked down upon the 
fair island for the first time from the chapel of San 
Michele? Was it true that too much light was 
not good for mortal eyes? 

" Beware of the light! Beware of the light! " 
His sinister warning echoed in my ears. 

I had accepted his bargain, I had paid his price, 
I had sacrificed my future to gain San Michele, 
what else did he want of me? What was the 
other heavy price he had said I would have to 
pay before I died? 

A dark cloud suddenly descended over the sea 
and over the garden at my feet. My burning 
eyelids closed with terror . . . 

"Listen, conipagni!" shouted the gravedigger 
of Rome from the terrace below, " listen to what 
I tell you! You peasant folk who only see him 
going about in this wretched little village, bare- 
footed and with no more clothes on than vou have. 

4(42 SUMMER 

do you know that he is driving about the streets 
of Rome with a carriage and pair, they say he even 
went to see the Pope when he had influenza? 
I tell you, compagni, there is nobody like him, 
he is the greatest doctor in Rome, come with me 
to my cemetery and you will see for yourself! 
Sempre lui! Sempre lui! As to me and my 
family I do not know what we should do without 
him, he is our benefactor. To whom do you think 
my wife is selling all her wreaths and flowers, if 
not to his customers! And all these foreigners 
who ring the bell at the gate and give their penny 
to my children for being let in, why do you think 
they have come there, what do you think they 
want? Of course my children don't understand 
what they are talking about, and often had to 
wander all over the cemetery with them before they 
found what they wanted. Now as soon as some 
foreigners ring the bell my children know at once 
what they want and take them straight to his 
row of graves, and they are always very pleased 
and give the children an extra penny. Sempre 
lui! Sempre lui! There is hardly a month he 
does not cut open some of his patients in the 
mortuary chapel to try to find out what was the 
matter with them, he gives me fifty lire apiece 
for putting them back in their coffins. I tell 
you, compagni! there is nobody like him! 
Sempre lui ! Sempre lui ! " 

The cloud had already drifted away, the sea was 
once more radiant with golden light, my fear was 
gone. The devil himself can do nothing to a man 
as long as he can laugh. 

The dinner party broke up. Glad to be alive, 


and with plenty of wine in our heads, we all went 

to bed to sleep the sleep of the just. 
* * * 

Hardly had I fallen asleep, than I found myself 
standing on a lonely plain strewn with debris of 
broken masonry, huge blocks of travertine and 
fragments of marbles half hidden by ivy, rosemary 
and wild honey-suckle, cistus and thyme. On 
a crumbling wall of opus reticulatwm, sat an 
old shepherd playing on the flute of Pan to his 
flock of goats. His wild, long-bearded face was 
scorched by sun and wind, his eyes were burning 
like fire under his bushy eyebrows, his lean 
emaciated body was shivering under his long blue 
cloak of a Calabrian shepherd. I offered him a 
little tobacco, he handed me a slice of fresh goat- 
cheese and an onion. I understood him with 

What was the name of this strange place? 

It had no name. 

Where did he come from? 

From nowhere, he had always been here, this 
was his home. 

Where did he sleep? 

He pointed with his long staff to a flight of 
steps under a tumbledown archway. I climbed 
down the step hewn in the rock and stood in a 
dim, vaulted room. In the corner a straw mat- 
tress with a couple of sheepskins as bedcover. 
Suspended round the walls and from the ceiling 
bunches of dried onions and tomatoes, an earthen- 
ware jug of water on the rough table. This was 
his home, these were his belongings. Here he 
had lived his whole life, here he would lie down 


one day to die. In front of me opened a dark 
subterranean passage half filled with debris from 
the faUen roof. Where did it lead to? 

He did not know, he had never been there. He 
had been told as a boy that it led to a cave 
haunted by an evil spirit who had lived there for 
thousands of years, in the shape of a huge were- 
wolf who would devour any man who should 
approach his cave. 

I lit a torch and groped my way down a flight 
of marble steps. The passage widened more and 
more, an ice-cold blast of air blew in my face. I 
heard an uncanny moan which made the blood 
freeze in my veins. Suddenly I stood in a large 
hall. Two huge columns of African marble still 
supported a part of the vaulted roof, two others 
lay across the mosaic floor wrenched from their 
pedestals by the grip of the earthquake. Hun- 
dreds of huge bats were hanging in black clusters 
round the walls, others were fluttering in wild 
flight round my head, blinded by the sudden light 
of the torch. In the midst of the hall crouched a 
huge granite sphinx, staring at me with stony, 
wide-open eyes. . . 

I started in my sleep. The dream vanished. 
I opened my eyes, the day was breaking. 

Suddenly I heard the call of the sea, imperious, 
irresistible like a command. I sprang to my feet, 
flung myself into my clothes and rushed up to the 
parapet of the chapel to hoist the signal to the 
yacht to make ready for the start. A couple of 
hours later I boarded my boat with provisions 
for a week, coils of stout rope, pick-axes and 
spades, a revolver, all my available money, a 


bundle of torches of resinous wood, such as fisher- 
men use for night fishing. A moment later we 
hoisted sail for the most stirring adventure of my 
life. The following night we dropped anchor in a 
lonely cove, unknown to all but a few fishermen 
and smugglers. Gaetano was to wait for me 
there with the yacht for a week and to run for 
shelter to the nearest port in case bad weather 
set in. We knew this dangerous coast well, with 
no safe anchorage for a hundred miles. I also 
knew its wonderful inland, once the Magna 
Graecia of the Golden Ages of Hellenic art and 
culture, now the most desolate province of Italy 
abandoned by man' to malaria and earthquake. 

Three days later I stood on the same lonely 
plain strewn with broken masonry and huge 
blocks of travertine and fragments of marbles 
half hidden under ivy, rosemary and wild honey- 
suckle, cistus and thyme. On the crumbling 
wall of opus reticulatvm sat the old shepherd 
playing on his pipe to his flock of goats. I 
offered him a little tobacco, he handed me a slice 
of fresh goat-cheese and an onion. The sun had 
already gone down behind the mountains, the 
deadly mist of malaria was slowly creeping over 
the desolate plain. I told him I had lost my way, 
I dared not wander about alone in this wilderness, 
might I stay with him for the night? 

He led the way to his underground sleeping 
quarters I knew so well from my dream. I lay 
down on his sheepskins and fell asleep. 

It is all too weird and fantastic to be translated 
into written words, you would besides not believe 
me if I tried to do so. I hardly know myself 


where the dream ended and where reality began. 
Who steered the yacht into this hidden, lonely 
cove? Who led my way across this trackless 
wilderness to the unknown ruins of Nero's villa? 
Was the shepherd of flesh and blood or was he not 
Pan himself who had come back to his favourite 
haunts of old to play the flute to his flock of 

Do not ask me any questions, I cannot tell you, 
I dare not tell you. You may ask the huge 
granite sphinx who lies crouching on the parapet 
of the chapel in San Michele. But you will ask 
in vain. The sphinx has kept her own secret for 
five thousand years. The sphinx will keep 


# # # 

I returned from the great adventure, emaciated 
from hunger and hardships of all sorts, and 
shivering with malaria. Once I had been kid- 
napped by brigands, there were plenty of them 
in Calabria in those days. It was my rags that 
saved me. Twice I had been arrested by the 
coastguards as a smuggler. Several times I had 
been stung by scorpions, my left hand was still 
in a bandage from the bite of a viper. Off Punta 
Licosa, where Leucosia, the Siren sister of Parthe- 
nope, lies buried, we were caught in a south- 
westerly gale and would have gone to the bottom 
of the sea with our heavy cargo had not Sant' 
Antonio taken the helm in the nick of time. 
Votive candles were still burning before his 
shrine in the church of Anacapri when I entered 
San Michele. The rumour that we had been 
wrecked in the heavy gale haid spread all over 


the island. All my household was overjoyed to 
welcome me home. 

Yes, all was well at San Michele, grazie a Dio. 
Nothing had happened in Anacapri, as usual no- 
body had died. The parroco had sprained his 
ankle, some people said he had slipped when 
descending the pulpit last Sunday, others said it 
was the parroco of Capri who had made him 
mal'occhio, everybody knew the parroco of Capri 
had the evil eye. Yesterday morning the Canon- 
ico Don Giacinto had been found dead in his bed 
down in Capri. The Canonico had been quite 
well when he went to bed, he had died in his sleep. 
He had been lying in state during the night before 
the High Altar, he was to be buried with great 
pomp this morning, the bells had been ringing 
since daybreak. 

In the garden the work had been going on as 
usual. Mastro Nicola had found another testa 
di cristiano when knocking down the cloister 
wall, and Baldassare had come upon another 
earthenware jar full of Roman coins while taking 
up the new potatoes. Old Pacciale who had been 
digging in my vineyard at Damecuta took me 
aside with an air of great mystery and impor- 
tance. Having ascertained that nobody over- 
heard us, he produced from his pocket a broken 
clay pipe black with smoke, it might have be- 
longed to some soldier of the Maltese regiment 
who camped at Damecuta in 1808. 

"La pipa di Timberio!" said old Pacciale* 

The dogs had had their baths every midday 

and their bones twice a week according to the 

regulations. The little owl was in good spirits. 


The mongoose was on his legs day and night 
always on the look-out for something or some- 
body. The tortoises seemed very happy in their 
own quiet way. 

Had Billy been good? 

Yes, Elisa hurried to answer, Billy had been 
very good, un vero angelo. 

I thought he did not look like one as I watched 
him grinning at me from the top of his private 
fig-tree. Contrary to his habit he did not come 
down to greet me. I felt sure he had been up 
to some mischief, I did not like the look of 
his face. Was it really true that Billy had been 

Gradually the truth came out. The very day I 
had sailed Billy had thrown a carrot at the head 
of a forestiere who was passing under the garden 
wall and smashed his eye-glass. The forestiere 
was very angry and was going to lodge a complaint 
at Capri. Elisa protested vigorously, it was all 
the fault of the forestiere who had no business to 
stand and laugh at Billy like that, everybody 
knew he got angry when people laughed at him. 
The next day there had been a terrible fight 
between Billy and the fox-terrier, all the dogs 
had thrown themselves into the fray, Billy had 
fought like II Demonio and even wanted to bite 
Baldassare when he tried to separate the bellig- 
erents. The battle had suddenly ceased with 
the arrival of the mongoose, Billy had leaped to 
his tree and all the dogs had slunk away as they 
always did when the little mongoose turned up. 
Billy and the dogs had been at daggers drawn ever 
since, he had even refused to continue to catch 

BILLY 449 

their fleas. Billy had chased the Siamese kitten 
all over the garden and ended by carrying it up 
to the top of his fig-tree and proceeded to pull 
off all its hair. Billy had been constantly teasing 
the tortoises. Amanda the biggest tortoise had 
laid seven eggs as big as pigeon-eggs to be hatched 
by the sun, tortoise-fashion, Billy had gulped 
them down in an instant. Had they at least been 
careful not to leave any wine-bottles about? 
There was an ominous silence. Pacciale, the 
most trustworthy of the household, admitted at 
last that on two occasions Billy had been seen 
sneaking out of the wine-cellar with a bottle in 
each hand. Three days ago two more wine- 
bottles had been discovered in the corner of the 
monkey-house, carefully buried under the sand. 
According to the instructions Billy had been 
immediately locked up in the monkey-house on 
water and bread pending my return. The next 
morning the monkey-house had been found 
empty, Billy had broken out in the night in some 
inexplicable way, the bars were intact, the key 
to the padlock was in Baldassare's pocket. The 
whole household had been hunting for Billy in 
vain all over the village. Baldassare had caught 
him at last this very morning high up on the 
mountain of Barbarossa, fast asleep, with a dead 
bird in his hand. While the investigation was 
going on, Billy was sitting at the top of his tree 
looking defiantly at me, there could be no doubt 
that he understood every word we said. Stern 
disciplinary measures were necessary. Monkeys 
like children must learn to obey until they can 
learn to command. Billy was beginning to look 


uneasy. He knew I was the master, he knew I 
could catch him with the lasso as I had done 
before, he knew that the whip in my hand was 
for him. The dogs knew it equally well where 
they sat in a circle round Billy's tree wagging 
their tails with clear consciences, thoroughly 
enjoying the situation dogs rather like to assist 
at the whipping of somebody else. Suddenly 
Elisa put her hands over her abdomen with a 
piercing scream and was dragged on to her bed 
in the cottage in the nick of time by Pacciale and 
me while Baldassare rushed to fetch the midwife. 
When I returned to his tree Billy had vanished, so 
much the better for him and for me, I hate to 
punish animals. 

I had besides other things to think about. I 
had always taken a keen interest in Don Giacinto. 
I was most anxious to know something more 
about his death, about his life I knew quite 
enough. Don Giacinto had the reputation of 
being the richest man on the island, he was said 
to possess an income amounting to twenty-five 
lire every hour of his life, c anche quando dorme/ 
even when he was asleep. I had watched him for 
many years squeezing the last penny out of his 
poor tenants, evicting them from their homes 
when the olives had failed and they could not 
pay their rent, leaving them to starve when they 
were getting old and had no more strength to 
toil for him. I had never heard of his giving 
away a penny, nor had anybody else. I knew I 
should cease to believe in any divine justice on 
this side of the grave if Almighty God had be- 
stowed upon this old bloodsucker the greatest 


blessing He can bestow upon any living man to 
die in his sleep. I decided to go and see my old 
friend the parroco, Don Antonio, he would be 
sure to be able to tell me what I wanted to know, 
Don Giacinto had been his deadly enemy for half 
a century. The parroco was sitting up in his 
bed, his foot wrapped up in an enormous bundle 
of blankets, his face beaming. The room was 
full of priests, in their midst stood Maria Porta- 
Lettere, her tongue almost dropping out of her 
mouth with excitement: Fire had broken out 
in the church of San Costanzo during the night, 
while Don Giacinto was lying in state on the 
catafalque, the coffin had been consumed by the 
flames! Some people said it was il Demonio 
who had knocked down the wax candelabra by 
the catafalque to set Don Giacinto on fore. 
Others said that it had been done by a band of 
brigands who had come to steal the silver statue 
of San Costanzo. The parroco was sure that it 
was il Demonio who had knocked down the wax 
candelabra, he had always believed that Don 
Giacinto would end in flames. 

Maria Porta-Lettere's account of Don Gia- 
cinto's death seemed plausible enough. II De- 
monio had appeared in the window while il 
Canonico was reading his evening prayers. Don 
Giacinto had called out for help and been carried 
to his bed in a fainting condition and had died of 
fright shortly afterwards. 

I was greatly interested, I thought I had better 
go down to Capri myself to investigate the matter. 
The Piazza was packed with people all screaming 
at the top of their voices. In their midst stood 


the Sindaco and the municipal councillors eagerly 
awaiting the arrival of the carabinieri from Sor- 
rento. On the steps leading to the church stood 
a dozen priests gesticulating wildly. The church 
was closed pending the arrival of the authorities. 
Yes, said the Sindaco coming up to me with a 
grave face, it was all true! The sacristan in 
coming to open the church in the morning had 
found it full of smoke. The catafalque was half 
consumed by the fire, the coffin itself was badly 
scorched, of the precious pall of embroidered 
velvet and a dozen wreaths from the Canonico's 
relatives and children nothing remained but a 
heap of smouldering ashes. Three of the huge 
wax candelabras round the catafalque were still 
burning, the fourth had evidently been knocked 
down by a sacrilegious hand to set fire to the pall. 
So far it was impossible to ascertain whether it 
was the work of n Demonio or of some criminals 
but the Sindaco shrewdly remarked that the fact 
that none of the precious jewels round the neck of 
San Costanzo were missing made him, parlando 
con rispetto, incline to the former supposition. 
The mystery deepened more and more as I con- 
tinued my investigations. In the Gaffe Zum 
Hiddigeigei, the headquarters of the German 
colony, the floor was strewn with broken glasses, 
bottles and crockery of all sorts, on a table stood 
a half -empty bottle of ,whisky. In the Farma- 
cia dozens of Faenza jars with precious drugs 
and secret compounds had been hurled from 
their shelves, castor-oil everywhere. II Profes- 
sore Raffaele Parmigiano showed me himself the 
devastation of his new Sala di Esposizione, the 


pride of the Piazza. His ' Eruption of Vesuvius/ 
his * Procession of San Costanzo,' his c Salto di 
Tiberio,' his * Bella Carmela' lay all in a heap 
on the floor, their frames broken, their canvases 
split. His c Tiberio swimming in the Blue Grot- 
to ' stood still on the easel all splashed over with 
patches of ultramarine in mad confusion. The 
Sindaco informed me that so far the investigations 
carried out by the local authorities had led to no 
result. The theory of brigands had been aban- 
doned by the Liberal party since it had been 
ascertained that nothing of real value had been 
carried away. Even the two dangerous Nea- 
politan camorrists, in villeggiatura in the gaol of 
Capri for over a year, had been able to establish 
their alibi. It had been proved that owing to the 
heavy rain they had remained the whole night in 
the prison instead of taking their usual stroll in 
the village after midnight as was their custom. 
They were besides good Catholics and very popu- 
lar and not likely to disturb themselves with 
such trifles. 

The theory of il Demonio had been dismissed 
by the Clerical party out of respect for the 
memory of Don Giacinto. Who then were the 
perpetrators of these dastardly outrages? There 
remained one hypothesis. There remained the 
secular enemy, almost at their very door, Ana- 
capri! Of course it was all the work of the 
Anacapresi! It explained everything! II Can- 
onico was the deadly enemy of the Anacapresi 
who had never forgiven him for having scoffed 
at the last miracle of Sant'Antonio in his famous 
sermon on the day of San Costanzo. The fierce 


hatred between Zum Hiddigeigei and the newly 
opened caffe in Anacapri was a notorious fact. 
In the time of Caesar Borgia Don Petruccio, the 
apothecary of Capri, would have thought twice 
before accepting any invitation from his colleague 
in Anacapri to partake of his macaroni. The 
competition between Professore Raffaele Parmi- 
giano of Capri and Professore Michelangelo of 
Anacapri for the monopoly of the * Tiberio swim- 
ming in the Blue Grotto ' had of late developed 
into a furious war. The opening of the Sala 
di Esposizione had hit Professore Michelangelo 
badly in the eye, the sale of his * Procession of 
Sant'Antonio ' had almost come to a stand- 

Of course Anacapri was at the bottom of 
it all. 

Abbasso Anacapri! Abbasso Anacapri! 

I thought I had better return from where I had 
come, I was beginning to feel very uneasy. I 
did not know myself what to believe. The bitter 
war between Capri and Anacapri which had been 
raging ever since the times of the Spanish viceroys 
in Naples was still going on in those days with 
unabated fury. The two sindacos were not on 
speaking terms. The peasants hated each other, 
the notables hated each other, the priests hated 
each other, the two patron saints, Sant'Antonio 
and San Costanzo, hated each other. A couple of 
years before I had seen with my own eyes a crowd 
of Capresi dancing round our little chapel of 
Sant'Antonio when a huge rock from Monte 
Barbarossa had smashed the altar and the statue 
of Sant'Antonio. 


At San Michele work had already been sus- 
pended, all my people were in their Sunday 
clothes on their way to the Piazza where the band 
was to play to celebrate the event, over a hundred 
lire having already been collected for the fire- 
works. The Sindaco had sent word hoping I 
would assist in my quality of cittadino onorario 
this unique distinction had in fact been bestowed 
upon me the year before. 

In the midst of the pergola sat Billy by the side 
of the biggest tortoise, too absorbed in his favour- 
ite game to notice my coming. The game con- 
sisted in a series of rapid knocks at the back door 
of the tortoise-house where the tail comes out. 
At each knock the tortoise would pop out its 
sleepy head from the front door to see what was 
the matter, only to receive a stunning blow on 
the nose from Billy's fist with the rapidity of 
lightning. This game was forbidden by the law 
of San Michele. Billy knew it quite well and 
screamed like a child when, for once quicker 
than he, I got hold of the strap round his 

" Billy,'* said I sternly, " I am going to have a 
private conversation with you under your fig-tree, 
there are several accounts to be settled between 
us. It is no good smacking your lips at me like 
that, you know that you deserve a good spanking 
and that you are going to get it. Billy, you have 
been drinking again 1 Two empty wine-bottles 
have been found in a corner of the monkey-house, 
one bottle of Buchanan's ' Black and White* 
is missing. Your general conduct during my 
absence in Calabria has been disgraceful. You 


have smashed the eyeglass of a forestiere with a 
carrot. You have been disobedient to my serv- 
ants. You have quarrelled and fought with the 
dogs, you have even refused to catch their fleas. 
You have insulted the mongoose. You have 
been disrespectful to the little owl. You have 
repeatedly boxed the ears of the tortoise. You 
have nearly strangled the Siamese kitten. Last 
not least you have broken away from the premises 
in a state of intoxication. Cruelty to animals 
belongs to your nature or you would not be a 
candidate for humanity, but the Lords of Crea- 
tion alone have the right to get drunk. I tell 
you I have enough of you, I am going to send 
you back to America to your drunken old master, 
Doctor Campbell, you are not fit for decent 
society. You are a disgrace to your father and 
mother! Billy, you are a disreputable man-cub, 
an inveterate drunkard, a..." 

There was an awful silence. 

Putting on my spectacles better to look at 
Billy's ultramarine finger-nails and scorched tail, 
I said at last: 

"Billy, I rather liked your retouches to 
* Tiberio swimming in the Blue Grotto/ I thought 
it an improvement on the original. It reminded 
me of a picture I saw last year in the Salon of the 
Futurists in Paris. Your former master often 
told me of your lamented mother, a most remark- 
able monkey, I understand. I suppose you have 
inherited your artistic talents from her. Your 
good looks and your sense of humour I guess you 
got from your father, whose identity has been 
fully established by recent events and who can be 


no other than the Devil himself. TeU me, Billy, 
just to satisfy my curiosity, was it you or your 
father who knocked down the wax candelabra and 
set the coffin on fire *' % 



'T^HE Rev. Canonico Don G-iacinto's sudden 
A departure to another world in fire and smoke 
had had a most invigorating effect upon our 
parroco Don Antonio's general condition of health 
and spirits. His sprained ankle improved rapidly 
and soon he was able to resume his customary 
morning walks to San Michele to assist at my 
breakfast. I always invited him, according to 
Neapolitan custom, to "mangiare con me" but 
he invariably declined my cup of tea with a po- 
lite: No, grazie, sto bene. The sole scope of 
his visit was to sit opposite me by the breakfast 
table and look at me while I was eating. Don 
Antonio had never seen a f orestiere before at close 
quarters and nearly everything I said or did was 
a constant source of curiosity to him. He knew 
I was a Protestant but after some vague attempts 
to discuss the matter we had agreed to drop 
theology from the conversation and leave the 
Protestants alone. It was a great concession on 
his part, for once a week he used to send all living 
and dead Protestants to hell from his pulpit with 
the most fearful invectives. The Protestants were 
Don Antonio's speciality, his sheet-anchor in all 
his oratorical difficulties, I do not know what he 
would have done without the Protestants. The 



old parroco's memory was somewhat shaky, the 
feeble thread of his argumentation used to break 
at the most awkward moments, in the midst of 
ids sermons there was a blank silence. His faith- 
ful congregation knew it well and did not mind 
it in the least, everybody continuing peacefully 
their meditations upon their own affairs, their olives 
and their vineyards, their cows and their pigs. 
They also knew what was to follow. Don An- 
tonio blew his nose with a series of thunder-blasts 
as from the trumpets of the Last Judgment, he 
was on safe ground again. 

"Ma questi maledetti protestanti, ma questo 
camorrista Lutero! May il Demonio tear their 
cursed tongues from their mouths, may he break 
their bones and roast them alive. In aeterni- 

Once on an Easter Sunday I happened to look 
in at the church door with a friend of mine at 
the very moment when the parroco was losing his 
bearings, there was the usual blank silence. I 
whispered in my friend's ear that we were in for 
it now. 

" Ma questo camorrista Lutero, questi maledetti 
protestanti! Che il Demonio . . /' 

Suddenly Don Antonio caught sight of me in 
the doorway. The clenched fist he had just raised 
to smite down the cursed infidels loosened into a 
friendly waving of the hand and an apology in 
my direction: But of course not il Signor Dottore! 
Of course not il Signor Dottore! 

I seldom failed to go to church on Easter 
Sunday to take up my place at the door by the 
side of blind old Cecatiello, the official beggar of 


Anacapri. We both stretched out our hands to 
the church goers, he for his soldo and I for the 
bird in the pocket of the men, in the folds of the 
black mantiglia of the women, in the palms of 
the hands of the children. It speaks a good deal 
for the exceptional position I enjoyed in those 
days among the villagers that they accepted with- 
out resentment my interfering with their way of 
celebrating the resurrection of Our Lord, conse- 
crated by the tradition of nearly two thousand 
years and still encouraged by their priests. From 
the first day of the Holy Week the traps had 
been set in every vineyard, under every olive tree. 
For days hundreds of small birds, a string tied 
round their wing, had been dragged about the 
streets by all the boys of the village. Now, muti- 
lated symbols of the Holy Dove, they were to 
be set free in the church to play their role in the 
jubilant commemoration of Christ's return to 
Heaven. They never returned to their sky, they 
fluttered about for a while helpless and bewildered, 
breaking their wings against the windows before 
they fell down to die on the church floor. At day- 
break I had been up on the church roof with 
Mastro Nicola holding the ladder as my unwill- 
ing assistant, in order to smash some of the window- 
panes, but only a very few of the doomed birds 
found their way to freedom. 

The birds! The birds! How much happier 
would not my life on the beautiful island have been 
had I not loved them as I do! I loved to see 
them come every spring in thousands and thou- 
sands, it was a joy to my ear to hear them sing 
in the garden of San Michele. But there came 


a time when I almost wished that they had not 
come, when I wished I could have signalled to 
them far out on the sea to fly on, fly on with the 
flock of wild geese high overhead, straight to my 
own country far in the North where they would 
be safe from man. For I knew that the fair island 
that was a paradise to me was a hell to them, like 
that other hell that awaited them further on on 
their Via Crucis, Heligoland. They came just 
before sunrise. All they asked for was to rest for 
a while after their long flight across the Mediter- 
ranean, the goal of the journey was so far away, 
the land where they were born and where they 
were to raise their young. They came in thou- 
sands: woodpigeons, thrushes, turtle-doves, waders, 
quails, golden orioles, skylarks, nightingales, wag- 
tails, chaffinches, swallows, warblers, redbreasts 
and many other tiny artists on their way to give 
spring concerts to the silent forests and fields in 
the north. A couple of hours later they fluttered 
helplessly in the nets the cunning of man had 
stretched all over the island from the cliffs by the 
sea high up to the slopes of Monte Solaro and 
Monte Barbarossa. In the evening they were 
packed by hundreds in small wooden boxes with- 
out food and water and despatched by steamers 
to Marseilles to be eaten with delight in the smart 
restaurants of Paris. It was a lucrative trade, 
Capri was for centuries the seat of a bishop en- 
tirely financed by the sale of the netted birds. 
" II vescovo delle quaglie," he was called in Rome. 
Do you know how they are caught in the nets? 
Hidden under the thickets, between the poles, are 
caged decoy birds who repeat incessantly, auto- 


matically their monotonous call. They cannot 
stop, they go on calling out night and day till 
they die. Long before science knew anything 
about the localization of the various nerve-centres 
in the human brain, the devil had revealed to his 
disciple man his ghastly discovery that by stinging 
out the eyes of a bird with a red-hot needle the 
bird would sing automatically. It is an old story, 
it was already known to the Greeks and the 
Romans, it is still done to-day all along the 
Southern shores of Spain, Italy 1 and Greece. 
Only a few birds in a hundred survive the opera- 
tion, still it is good business, a blinded quail is 
worth twenty-five lire in Capri to-day. During 
six weeks of the spring and six weeks of the 
autumn, the whole slope of Monte Barbarossa was 
covered with nets from the ruined castle on the 
top down to the garden wall of San Michele at 
the foot of the mountain. It was considered the 
best caccia on the whole island, as often as not 
over a thousand birds were netted there in a single 
day. The mountain was owned by a man from 
the mainland, an ex-butcher, a famous specialist 
in the blinding of birds, my only enemy in Anacapri 
except the doctor. Ever since I had begun build- 
ing San Michele the war between him and me had 
been going on incessantly. I had appealed to the 
Prefect of Naples, I had appealed to the Govern- 
ment in Rome, I had been told there was nothing 
to be done, the mountain was his, the law was on 
his side. I had obtained an audience from the 
highest Lady in the land, she had smiled at me 
with her enchanting smile that had won her the 

1 Now forbidden by law. 


heart of the whole of Italy, she had honoured me 
with an invitation to remain for luncheon, the 
first word I had read on the menu had been " Pate 
d'alouettes farcies." I had appealed to the Pope 
and had been told by a fat cardinal that the Holy 
Father had been carried down in his portantina 
that very morning at daybreak to the Vatican gar- 
dens to watch the netting of the birds, the caccia 
had been good, over two hundred birds had been 
caught. I had scraped off the rust from the little 
two-pounder the English had abandoned in the 
garden in 1808 and started firing off a shot every 
five minutes from midnight till sunrise in the hope 
of frightening away the birds from the fatal moun- 
tain. The ex-butcher had sued me for interfering 
with the lawful exercise of his trade, I had been 
fined two hundred lire damages. I had trained 
all the dogs to bark the whole night at the cost 
of what little sleep remained for me. A few days 
later my big Maremnia dog died suddenly, I found 
traces of arsenic in his stomach. I caught sight 
of the murderer the next night lurking behind 
the garden wall and knocked him down. He sued 
me again, I was fined five hundred lire for as- 
sault. I had sold my beautiful Greek vase and 
my beloved Madonna by Desiderio di Settignano 
in order to raise the enormous sum he had asked 
for the mountain, several hundred times its value. 
When I came with the money he renewed his old 
tactics and grinned at me that the price had been 
doubled. He knew his man. My exasperation 
had reached a point when I might have parted 
with everything I possessed to become the owner 
of the mountain. The bird slaughter went on as 


before. I had lost my sleep, I could think of 
nothing else. In my despair I fled from San 
Michele and sailed for Monte Cristo to return when 
the last birds had passed over the island. 

The first thing I heard when I came back was 
that the ex-butcher was lying on the point of death. 
Masses were read for his salvation twice a day 
in the church at thirty lire apiece, he was one of 
the richest men in the village. Towards evening 
arrived the parroco asking me in the name of Christ 
to visit the dying man. The village doctor sus- 
pected pneumonia, the chemist was sure it was a 
stroke, the barber thought it was un colpo di 
sangue, the midwife thought it was una paura. 
The parroco himself, always on the look-out for 
the evil eye, inclined towards the marocchio. I 
refused to go. I said I had never been a doctor 
in Capri except for the poor and that the resident 
physicians on the island were quite capable of 
coping with any of these ailments. Only on one 
condition would I come, that the man would swear 
on the crucifix that if he pulled through he would 
never again sting out the eyes of a bird and that 
he would sell me the mountain at his exorbitant 
price of a month ago. The man refused. In the 
night he was given the Last Sacraments. At day- 
break the parroco appeared again. My offer had 
been accepted, he had sworn on the crucifix. Two 
hours later I tapped a pint of pus from his left 
pleura to the consternation of the village doctor 
and to the glory of the village saint, for, contrary 
to my expectations, the man recovered. Miracolo! 

The mountain of Barbarossa is now a bird 


sanctuary. Thousands of tired birds of passage 
are resting on its slopes every spring and autumn, 
safe from man and beast. The dogs of San 
Michele are forbidden to bark while the birds are 
resting on the mountain. The cats are never let 
out of the kitchen except with a little alarm-bell 
tied round their necks, Billy the vagabond is shut 
up in the monkey-house, one never knows what a 
monkey or a school-boy is up to. 

So far I have never said a word to belittle the 
last miracle of Sant' Antonio which at a low esti- 
mate saved for many years the lives of at least 
fifteen thousand birds a year. But when all is 
over for me, I mean just to whisper to the nearest 
angel that with all due respect to Sant'Antonio, 
it was I and not he who tapped the pus out of the 
butcher's left pleura and to implore the angel to 
put in a kind word for me if nobody else will. I 
am sure Almighty God loves the birds or He would 
not have given them the same pair of wings as 
He has given to His own angels. 



Q ANT'ANNA shook her head and wanted to 
O know whether it was wise to send out such a 
small baby on such a windy day, and if it was at 
least a respectable house the grandchild was to 
be taken to? The Madonna said there was noth- 
ing to worry about, the child would be well 
wrapped up, she felt sure he would be all right,, 
she had always heard children were welcome in 
San Michele. Better let the boy go since he 
wanted to go, didn't she know that small as he 
was he had already a will of his own? St. 
Joseph was not even consulted, it is true he never 
had much to say in the Family. Don Salvatore, 
the youngest priest of Anacapri, lifted the cradle 
from the shrine, the sacristan lit the wax candles 
and off they went. 1 First came a small choir- 
boy ringing a bell, then came two FigUe cti Maria 
in their white frocks and blue veils, then came 
the sacristan swinging the censer, then came Don 
Salvatore carrying the cradle* As they passed 
along through the village, the men bared their 

1 You may not have heard of this quaint old custom. During 
my stay in San Michele I used to receive a visit from the 
Bambino every year, the greatest honour that could possibly 
be bestowed upon us. He generally remained at San Michela 
for a week 


heads, the women held up their own babies that 
they might see the Royal Infant, a golden crown 
on his head, a silver rattle in the shape of a siren 
round his neck, and the street boys called out 
to one another: "II Bambino! II Bambino!" 
At the door of San Michele stood the whole house- 
hold with roses in their hands to welcome our 
guest. The best room in the house had been 
turned into a nursery, full of flowers and hung 
with garlands of rosemary and ivy* On a table 
spread with our best linen cloth burned two wax 
candles, for small children do not like to be left 
in the dark. In a corner of the nursery stood my 
Florentine Madonna, hugging her own baby and 
from the walls two putti of Luca della Robbia and 
a Holy Virgin of Mino da Fiesole looked down 
upon the cradle. From the ceiling burned the 
holy lamp, woe to the house if it ever flickered 
and went out, it meant the death of its owner 
before the year was over. By the cradle lay a 
few humble toys, such as our village could pro- 
duce, to keep company with the Bambino; a 
bald-headed doll, sole survivor from Giovannina 
and Rosina's childhood, a wooden donkey lent 
by Elisa's eldest girl, a rattle in the shape of a 
horn against the evil eye. In a basket under 
the table lay asleep Elisa's cat with her six new- 
born kittens, specially brought there for the 
occasion. In a huge earthenware jar on the floor 
stood a whole bush of rosemary in flower. Do 
you know why rosemary? Because when the 
Madonna washed the linen of the Infant Jesus 
Christ, she hung his little shirt to dry on a bush 
of rosemary. 


Don Salvatore deposited the cradle in its 
shrine and left the Bambino in the charge of my 
womenfolk after most detailed recommendations 
to watch over him and see that he had all he 
wanted. Elisa's children played about on the 
floor the whole day to keep him company and at 
Ave Maria the whole household kneeled before 
the cradle reciting their prayers. Giovannina 
poured a little more oil in the lamp for the night, 
they waited for a while till the Bambino had 
fallen asleep and then they went away as silently 
as they could. When all was still in the house I 
went up to the nursery to have a look at the 
Bambino before I went to bed. The light from 
the holy lamp fell on the cradle, I could just see 
him lying there smiling in his sleep. 

Poor little smiling child, little did he know 
that the day should come when all of us who were 
kneeling by his cradle should abandon him, when 
those who said they loved him should betray him, 
when cruel hands should tear the golden crown 
from his brow and replace it by a crown of thorns 
and nail him to a cross, forsaken even by God. 

The night he died a sombre old man was wan- 
dering up and down the same marble floor where I 
was standing now. He had risen from his couch 
roused in his sleep by a haunting dream. His 
face was dark as the sky overhead, fear shone in 
his eye. He summoned his astronomers and his 
wise men from the East and bid them to tell him 
the meaning of his dream, but before they could 
read the golden writing on the sky, one by one 
the stars flickered and went out. Whom had he 
to fear, he the ruler of the world! What mat- 


tered the life of one single man to him, the arbiter 
of the lives of millions of men! Who could bring 
him to account for the putting to death that 
night of an innocent man by one of his procu- 
rators in the name of the Emperor of Rome? 
And his procurator whose execrated name is still 
on our lips, was he more responsible than his 
Imperial Master for signing the death-warrant of 
an innocent man? To him, the stern upholder 
of Roman law and tradition in an unruly prov- 
ince, was it even an innocent man he was putting 
to death? And the cursed Jew who still wanders 
round the world in search of forgiveness, did he 
know what he was doing? Or he, the greatest 
evildoer of all time, when he betrayed his Master 
with his kiss of love? Could he have done other- 
wise? Did he do it of his own free will? It had 
to be done, he had to do it obeying a will stronger 
than his. Was there not in that night on Gol- 
gotha more than one man who was made to 
suffer for a sin which was not his? 

I bent over the sleeping child for a while and 
went away on tiptoe. 



THE festa di Sant'Antonio was the greatest 
day in the year for Anacapri. For weeks 
the little village had been all astir for the solemn 
commemoration of our Patron Saint. The streets 
had been cleaned, the houses where the pro- 
cession had to pass had been whitewashed, the 
church decorated with red silk hangings and 
tapestries, the fireworks ordered from Naples, 
the band, most important of all, hired from 
Torre Airnunziata. The series of festivals opened 
with the arrival of the band on the eve of the 
great day. Half across the bay the band had 
already to begin to blow all they were worth, 
far too far away to be heard by us in Anacapri 
but near enough with favourable wind to irritate 
the ears of the Capresi in the hated village below* 
On landing at the Marina the band and their 
gigantic instruments were packed in two big 
carts and taken as far as the carriage road was 
finished. The rest of the way they had to climb 
in loose formation up the steep Phoenician steps, 
blowing incessantly. Under the wall of San 
Michele they were received by a deputation from 
the Municipio. The magnificent bandmaster in 
his gorgeous uniform all covered with gold lace 
a la Murat raised his baton and, preceded by the 



boys of the village, the band made their solemn 
entrance into Anacapri a tempo di marcia blowing 
their horns, clarinets and oboes, banging their 
drums and cymbals and rattling their triangles as 
hard as they could. Inauguration concert on the 
Piazza all decorated with flags and crammed with 
people, lasting without any interval till midnight. 
A few hours' dreamless sleep in the old barracks 
where the English soldiers slept in 1806, inter- 
rupted by the bursting of the first rockets to an- 
nounce that the great day was dawning. At 4 a.m. 
reveille through the village blowing lustily in the 
fresh morning breeze. At 5 the usual morning 
mass in church read as always by the parroco 
assisted, in honor of the occasion, by the band on 
empty stomachs. At 7 merenda, a cup of black 
coffee, half a kilo of bread and fresh goat-cheese. 
At 8 the church was already filled to the last place, 
the men on one side, the women on the other, their 
babies asleep on their laps. In the center of the 
church the band on their specially erected tribune. 
The twelve priests of Anacapri in their choirstalls 
behind the High Altar embarked courageously on 
the Missa Solennis of Pergolesi, trusting to Provi- 
dence and the accompanying band to see them 
through. Musical intermezzo, a furious galop 
played by the band with great bravura, much ap- 
preciated by the congregation. At ten o'clock 
Messa Cantata from the High Altar with painful 
solos by poor old Don Antonio and tremolos of 
protestation and sudden cries of distress from the 
inside of the little organ, worn out by the wear 
and tear of three centuries. At eleven sermon 
from the pulpit in commemoration of Sant' Antonio 


and his miracles, each miracle illustrated and made 
visible by a special gesture appropriate to the occa- 
sion. Now the orator would raise his hands in 
ecstasy to the Saints in Heaven, now he would 
point his index to the floor to locate the under- 
ground dwellings of the damned. Now he would 
fall on his knees in silent prayers to Sant'Antonio 
suddenly to spring to his feet on the point of pre- 
cipitating himself from the pulpit, to smite down 
an invisible scoffer with a blow from his fist. Now 
he would bend his head in rapturous silence to 
listen to the happy chants of the angels, now, pale 
with terror, he would put his hands to his ears not 
to hear the grinding of the teeth of il Demonio 
and the cries of the sinners in their cauldrons. At 
last, streaming with perspiration and prostrated 
by two hours of tears and sobs and maledictions at 
a temperature of 105 Fahrenheit, he would sink 
down on the floor of the pulpit with a terrific curse 
on the Protestants. 12 o'clock. Great excitement 
on the Piazza. Esce la processione! Esce la pro- 
cessionel The procession is coming out. First 
came a dozen small children, almost babies, hand 
in hand. Some wore short white tunics and angel 
wings like Raphael's putti. Some, entirely naked 
and adorned with garlands of vine-leaves and 
wreaths of roses round their brows, looked as if 
detached from a Greek bas-relief. Then came the 
Figlie di Maria, tall slender girls in white robes 
and long blue veils with the silver medal of the 
Madonna round their necks on a blue ribbon. Then 
came the bizzocche, in black dresses and black veils, 
dried-up old spinsters who had remained faithful 
to their first love, Jesus Christ. Then came the 


" Congrega di Carita " preceded by their banner, 
old, grave-looking men in their quaint black and 
white cassocks of the time of Savonarola. 

La musica ! La musica ! 

Then came the band in their gold-laced uniforms 
from the time of the Bourbon kings of Naples, pre- 
ceded by their magnificent bandmaster blowing for 
all they were worth a wild polka, a special favour- 
ite piece of the saint, I understood. Then, sur- 
rounded by all the priests in their gala robes and 
saluted by hundreds of crackers, appeared Sant' 
Antonio erect on his throne, his hand stretched out 
in the act of blessing. His robe was covered with 
precious lace and strewn with jewels and ex-votos, 
his mantle of magnificent old brocatello was fas- 
tened on his breast wtih a fibula of sapphires and 
rubies. From a string of multi-colored glass beads 
round his neck hung a huge coral in the shape of 
a horn to protect him against the evil eye. 

Close on the heels of Sant'Antonio came I, bare- 
headed, wax taper in hand, walking by the side of 
the sindaco an honor bestowed upon me by special 
permission from the Archbishop of Sorrento. Then 
came the municipal councillors relieved for the day 
from their grave responsibility. Then came the 
notables of Anacapri: the doctor, the notary, the 
apothecary, the barber, the tobacconist, the tailor. 
Then came il popolo: sailors, fishermen, contadini, 
followed at a respectful distance by their women- 
folk and their children. In the rear of the proces- 
sion walked humbly half-a-dozen dogs, a couple of 
goats with their kids trotting by their side, and a 
pig or two, on the look-out for their owners. Spe- 
cially selected masters of ceremony, gilt sticks in 


their hands, Gold Sticks in Waiting to the Saint, 
rushed incessantly to and fro along the flank of the 
procession to keep order in the ranks and to regu- 
late the speed. As the procession wound its way 
through the lanes, basketfuls of sweet scented gin- 
estra, the favourite flower of the saint, were thrown 
from every window. The broom is in fact called 
the fiore di Sant'Antonio. Here and there a cord 
had been stretched across the street from one win- 
dow to another and just as the saint passed by, a 
gaily-coloured cardboard angel was seen perform- 
ing a precipitate flight with flapping wings across 
the rope to the huge delight of the crowd. In front 
of San Michele the procession halted and the saint 
was reverently deposited on a specially erected 
stand to rest for a while. The clergy wiped the 
perspiration from their foreheads, the band kept 
on blowing their fortissimo as they had done ever 
since they issued from the church two hours before, 
Sant'Antonio looked on benevolently from his 
stand while my womenfolk threw handfuls of roses 
from the windows, old Pacciale rang the bells from 
the chapel and Baldassare lowered the flag from 
the roof of the house. It was a grand day for us 
all, everybody was proud of the honour paid to us. 
The dogs watched the proceedings from the per- 
gola, well behaved and polite as usual though some- 
what restless. In the garden the tortoises continued 
impassive to ponder upon their own problems, the 
mongoose was too busy to give way to his curiosity. 
The little owl sat blinking with half -closed eyes on 
his perch, thinking of something else. Billy, being 
an unbeliever, was shut up in the monkey-house, 
from where he kept up an infernal din, shouting at 


the top of his voice, banging his water-bottle 
against his tin bowl, rattling his chain, shaking his 
bars and using the most horrible language. 

Back to the Piazza where Sant' Antonio saluted 
by a tremendous detonation of crackers was rein- 
stalled in his shrine in the church and the proces- 
sion went home to their macaroni. The band sat 
down to a banquet offered by the authorities under 
the pergola of the Hotel Paradiso, half a kilo of 
macaroni per head, vino a volonta. At four the 
doors of San Michele were flung open, half an 
hour later the whole village was in the garden, rich 
and poor, men, women and children and new-born 
babies, cripples, idiots, blind and lame, those who 
could not come by themselves were carried on the 
shoulders of the others. Only the priests were 
absentees, though not by any fault of theirs. Pros- 
trated by their long wanderings, they leaned back 
in their choirstalls behind the High Altar in fervent 
prayers to Sant'Antonio, audible maybe to the 
Saint himself in his shrine but seldom to anybody 
else who happened to look into the empty church. 
A long row of tables with huge piretti of San 
Michele's best wine stretched from one end of the 
pergola to the other. Old Pacciale, Baldassare and 
Mastro Nicola were hard at work re-filling the 
wine-glasses and Giovannina, Rosina and Elisa 
went round offering cigars to the men, coffee to 
the women and cakes and sweets to the children. 
The band, by special arrangement with the authori- 
ties, lent to me for the afternoon, was blowing 
incessantly from the upper loggia. The whole 
house was thrown open, nothing was locked up, 
all my precious belongings were lying about as 


usual in their apparent disorder on tables, chairs 
and on the floor. Over a thousand people wandered 
freely from room to room, nothing was ever 
touched, nothing was ever missing. When the 
bells rang Ave Maria the reception was over and 
they all went away after much handshaking, hap- 
pier than ever, but that is what wine is made for. 
The band in better form than ever led the way to 
the Piazza. The twelve priests relieved and re- 
freshed by their vigil over Sant'Antonio stood al- 
ready in compact formation outside the church 
doors. The sindaco, the municipal councillors and 
the notables took their seats on the terrace of the 
municipio. The band gasping for breath hoisted 
themselves and their instruments on the specially 
erected tribune. The popolo stood in the Piazza 
packed like herrings. The majestic bandmaster 
raised his baton, the Gran Concerto began. Rigo- 
letto, II Trovatore, Gli Ughenotti, I Puritani, II 
Ballo in Maschera, a choice selection of Neapol- 
itan folksongs, polkas, mazurkas, minuets and 
tarantellas in uninterrupted succession and ever 
increasing tempo until eleven o'clock when two 
thousand lire worth of rockets, Roman candles, 
Catherine wheels and crackers exploded in the air 
to the glory of Sant'Antonio. At midnight the 
official programme for the festivity was exhausted 
but not so the Anacapresi and the band. Nobody 
went to bed, the village resounded with singing, 
laughter and music the whole night long. Ewiva 
la gioia! Ewiva il Santo! Ewiva la musical 

The band was to depart by the six o'clock morn- 
ing boat. On their way to the Marina they halted 
at daybreak under the windows of San Michele for 


their customary " Serenata d'Addio " in my honour. 
I can still see Henry James looking down from his 
bedroom window, shaking with laughter, in his 
pyjamas. The band had been sadly reduced in 
numbers and efficiency during the night. The 
bandmaster had become delirious, two of the lead- 
ing oboists had spit blood, the bassoon had had a 
rupture, the big drummer had dislocated his right 
shoulder-blade, the cymbalist had split his ear- 
drums. Two more members of the band incapaci- 
tated by emotion had had to be taken down to the 
Marina on donkeys. The survivors lay on their 
backs in the middle of the road blowing with their 
last breath their plaintive Serenata d'Addio to San 
Michele, Revived by a cup of black coffee they 
staggered speechless to their feet and with a friend- 
ly waving of their hands they reeled down the 
Phoenician steps to the Marina. The Festa di 
Sant'Antonio was over. 



IT was the height of summer, a long glorious 
day of unbroken sunshine. The British 
Embassy had moved down from Rome and 
established its headquarters at Sorrento. On 
the balcony of the Hotel Vittoria sat the ambas- 
sador in his sailor cap, scanning the horizon 
through his monocle for the maestrale to begin 
to fan the glossy waters of the gulf. In the little 
harbour at his feet his beloved * Lady Hermione * 
lay riding at her anchor, as impatient as himself 
for the start. He had designed and rigged her 
himself with marvellous ingenuity and technical 
skill as a single-handed fast cruiser. He often 
used to say he would not mind sailing her across 
the Atlantic, he was prouder of her than of any 
of his brilliant diplomatic achievements. He used 
to spend the whole day in his boat, his face was 
as bronzed as that of a Sorrento fisherman. He 
knew the coast from Civita Vecchia to Punta 
Licosa almost as well as I did. Once he had chal- 
lenged me to a race down, to Messina and had 
beaten me badly with a following wind and a heavy 
sea to his great delight. 

" Wait till I get my new jackyard topsail and 
my silk spinnaker," said I. 

He loved Capri and thought San Michele the 



most beautiful place he had ever seen, and he had 
seen much. He knew little of the long history 
of the island but was as eager as a schoolboy to 
know more. 

I was just then exploring the Blue Grotto. 
Twice Mastro Nicola had dragged me half 
unconscious out of the famous subterranean 
passage leading, according to tradition, through 
the bowels of the earth up to the Tiberian villa 
six hundred feet overhead on the plain of Dame- 
cuta, maybe a corruption of Domus Augusta. 
I spent whole days in the Grotto and Lord 
DufFerin often used to come in his little dinghy 
to pay me a visit while I was at work. After a 
delicious swim in the blue waters we used to sit 
for hours outside the mysterious tunnel, talking 
about Tiberius and the Capri orgies. I told the 
ambassador that like all the rest of Suetonius' 
filthy gossip it was nonsense about the sub- 
terranean passage through which Tiberius was 
supposed to have come down to the Grotto to 
play about with his boys and girls before stran- 
gling them. The tunnel was not made by the 
hand of man but by the slow infiltration of sea- 
water through the rock. I had crawled in it for 
over eighty yards and convinced myself at the 
peril of my life that it led nowhere. That the 
Grotto was known to the Romans was proved 
by the numerous traces of Roman masonry. 
The island having sunk about sixteen feet since 
then, the grotto was in those days entered through 
the huge submerged vault visible through the 
clear water. The small aperture through which 
he had entered in his dinghy was originally a 


window for the. ventilation of the Grotto, which 
was of course not blue then but just like the 
dozens of other grottos on the island. Baedeker's 
information that the Blue Grotto had been dis- 
covered in 1826 by the German painter Kopisch 
was incorrect The grotto was known in the 
seventeenth century as Grotta Gradula and was 
rediscovered in 1822 by the Capri fisherman 
Angelo Ferraro who was even granted a life 
pension for his discovery. As to the sinister 
tradition of Tiberius handed down to posterity 
in the Annals of Tacitus, I told Lord Dufferin 
that history had never committed a worse blunder 
than when condemning this great emperor to 
infamy on the testimony of his principal accuser, 
" a detractor of humanity," as Napoleon had 
called him. Tacitus was a brilliant writer but 
his Annals were historical novels, not history. 
He had to insert at random his twenty lines about 
the Capri orgies in order to complete his picture 
of the typical tyrant of the rhetorical school to 
which he belonged. There was no difficulty in 
tracing the more than suspect source from which 
he had got hold of these foul rumours. I was 
besides pointing out in my " Psychological Study 
of Tiberius " that they did not even relate to the 
Emperor's life in Capri. That Tacitus himself 
did not believe in the Capri orgies is evident 
from his own narrative since they do not in any 
way weaken his general conception of Tiberius 
as a great emperor and a great man, " admirable 
in character and in great esteem " to use his own 
words. Even his far less clever follower, Sueto- 
nius, introduces his filthiest stories with the 


remark that they are " scarcely allowable to 
be related and still less to be believed." Before 
the appearance of the Annals eighty years after 
the death of Tiberius there was no public man 
in Roman history with a cleaner record of a 
noble and unblemished life than the old emperor. 
None of the various writers on Tiberius, some of 
them his contemporaries with first class oppor- 
tunities for picking up all the gossip of the evil 
tongues of Rome, had a word to say about the 
Capri orgies. Philo, the pious and learned Jew, 
distinctly speaks of the clean and simple life 
Caligula was forced to lead when staying with 
his adopted grandfather in Capri. Even the 
jackal Suetonius, forgetful of the wise saying of 
Quintilian that a liar must have a good memory, 
blunders into the information that Caligula, when 
bent on some debauchery in Capri, had to dis- 
guise himself in a wig to escape the stern eye 
of the old Emperor. Seneca, the castigator of 
vice, and Pliny both his contemporaries speak 
of the austere solitude of Tiberius in Capri. Dio 
Cassius it is true, makes some casual remarks 
about these f oul rumours but cannot help noticing 
himself the inexplicable contradictions into which 
he is falling. Even the scandal-loving Juvenal 
speaks of the Emperor's "tranquil old age* 9 in 
his island home, surrounded by his learned 
friends and astronomers. Plutarch, the severe 
upholder of morality, speaks of the old man's 
dignified solitude during the last ten years of his 
life. That the story of the Capri orgies is 
absolutely impossible from the point of view of 
scientific psychology was already understood by 


Voltaire. Tiberius was in his sixty-eighth year 
when he retired to Capri with an unbroken 
record of a life of stern morality, unchallenged 
even by his worst enemies. A possible diagnosis 
of some sinister senile dementia is excluded by 
the admission of all writers that the old man was 
in full possession of his mental health and vigour 
up to his death in his 79th year. The vein of 
insanity which runs through the Julian stock 
was besides absent in the Claudian. His life on 
the island was the life of a lonely old man, the 
weary ruler of an ungrateful world, a sombre 
idealist, heartbroken and bitter, a hypochon- 
driac he might even be called to-day, his mag- 
nificent intellect and his rare sense of humour 
still surviving his belief in mankind. He dis- 
trusted and despised his contemporaries and no 
wonder, for almost every man or woman he had 
trusted had betrayed him. Tacitus has quoted 
his words when, the year before his retirement 
to Capri, he rejected the petition to erect him a 
temple for divine worship as had been done to 
Augustus, Who but the compiler of the Annals, 
the brilliant master of sarcasm and subtle insinua- 
tion, could have had the audacity to quote with a 
sneer the old Emperor's grave appeal to posterity 
for a fair judgment? 

"As for myself, Conscript Fathers, I declare 
unto you that I am no more than mortal and 
do but discharge the duties of a man; that it 
suffices me if I fill worthily the principal place 
among you; this I would have remembered by 
those who live after me. Enough and more than 
enough will they render to my memory, if they 


judge me to have been worthy of my ancestors, 
watchful of your interests, steadfast in danger, 
and undaunted by the enmities encountered in 
the public service. These are the temples I would 
erect in your hearts, these are the fairest images 
and such as will best endure. As for those built of 
stone, if the judgment of posterity turn into hate, 
they are but dishonoured sepulchres. Hence I here 
invoke the Gods that to the end of my days they 
grant me a spirit undisturbed and discerning in my 
duties towards them and towards mankind; and 
hence I ask our citizens and allies that when I shall 
have departed this world, they will honour my life 
and my name with their approval and their kindly 

We climbed up to Damecuta. The old 
Emperor knew what he was doing when he built 
his largest villa there, next to San Michele 
Damecuta commands the most beautiful view 
on the island of Capri. I told the ambassador 
that many of the fragments found here had come 
into the hands of his colleague Sir William 
Hamilton, the British Ambassador to Naples in 
the time of Nelson, and were now in the British 
Museum. Many were still lying hidden under the 
vines, I meant to start excavations here in earnest 
next summer, the vineyard now belonged to me. 
Lord Dufferin picked up a rusty soldier's button 
among the debris of mosaic and coloured marble 
slabs. Corsican Rangers! Yes, two hundred 
Corsican Rangers were encamped here in 1808 
but unluckily the bulk of the English garrison 
in Anacapri consisted of Maltese troops, who 
retired in disorder when the French rushed the 


camp. Looking down upon the cliffs at Orico 
I showed the ambassador where the French had 
landed and climbed the precipitous rock, we 
agreed it was indeed a marvellous performance. 
Yes, the English had fought with their usual 
gallantry but had to retire under cover of the 
night to what is San Michele to-day where their 
commander, Major Hamill, an Irishman like 
himself, had died of his wounds. He lies buried 
in a corner of the cemetery of Anacapri. The 
two-pounder they had to abandon in their 
enforced retreat down the Phoenician steps to 
Capri the next day is still in my garden. At 
daybreak the French opened fire on Capri from 
the heights of Monte Solaro, how they got a gun 
up there seems almost incomprehensible. There 
was nothing for the English commander in the 
Casa Inglese in Capri to do but to sign the 
document of surrender. Hardly was the ink 
dry before the English fleet, becalmed by the 
Ponza islands, appeared in the offing. The 
document of surrender bore the name of an 
exceptionally unlucky man, the future gaoler of 
the captive eagle on another island, Sir Hudson 

As we were walking back through the village 
to San Michele I pointed to a small house in a 
little garden and told the ambassador that the 
owner of the house was an aunt of La Bella 
Margherita, the beauty of Anacapri. The aunt 
had married a "milord inglese" who, unless I 
was mistaken, was a relation of his. Yes, he 
well remembered that a cousin of his had married 
an Italian peasant girl to the dismay of his 


family and had even taken her to England, but 
he had never seen her and did not know what 
had become of her after her husband's death. 
He was tremendously interested and wanted me 
to tell him all I knew about her, adding that 
what he knew about her husband was quite 
enough for him. I told him it had all happened 
long before my time. I had only known her 
long after her return from England as a widow, 
she was then already an old woman. All I 
could tell him was what I had heard from old 
Don Crisostomo who had been her confessor 
and also her tutor. Of course she could neither 
read nor write but with her quick Caprese mind 
she had soon picked up a lot of English. In 
order to prepare her for her life in England as 
the wife of a milord inglese, Don Crisostomo, 
who was a learned man, had been instructed to 
give her a few lessons in various matters to 
enlarge the limited range of her conversation. 
Grace . and good manners she already possessed 
by birthright as all Capri girls do. As to good 
looks it was safe to rely on Don Crisostomo's 
assurance that she was the most beautiful girl 
in Anacapri, for I had always considered him as 
a great connoisseur. AH efforts to rouse her 
interest in anything outside her own island having 
failed, it was decided to limit her education to 
the history of Capri to give her at least something 
to talk about to her relations. She listened 
gravely to the terrible tales how Tiberio had 
thrown his victims from the Salto di Tiberio, 
how he had scratched the face of a fisherman with 
the claws of a crab, how he had strangled small 


boys and girls in the Blue Grotto. How his 
grandson Nero had had his own mother beaten to 
death by his oarsmen in view of the island, how his 
nephew Caligula had drowned thousands of people 
off Pozzuoli. At last she said in her inimitable 

" They must have been very bad all these people, 
nothing but camorristi." 

" I should think so," said the Professor, " didn't 
you hear me say that Tiberio strangled the boys 
and girls in the Blue Grotto, that . . ." 

"Are they all dead?" 

" Yes, of course, nearly two thousand years 

" But why on earth should we then trouble about 
them, do let us leave them alone," she said with her 
enchanting smile. 

Thus ended her education. 

After the death of her husband she had returned 
to her island and gradually drifted back to the 
simple life of her ancestors with a lineage two 
thousand years older than that of her milord 
inglese. We found her sitting in the sun on her 
little pergola, a rosary in her hand and a cat 
in her lap, ,a dignified Roman matron, stately 
as the mother of the Gracchi. Lord Dufferin 
kissed her hand with the courtesy of an old courtier. 
She had forgotten nearly all her English and fallen 
back to the dialect of her childhood, and the am- 
bassador's classical Italian was as unintelligible to 
her as to me. 

" Tell her," said Lord Dufferin as we rose to 
go, " tell her from me that she is at least as great 
a lady as her milord inglese was a gentleman." 


Did the ambassador wish to see her niece, 
La Bella Margherita? Yes, he asked for nothing 

La Bella Margherita received us with her charm- 
ing smile and a glass of the parroco's best wine 
and the gallant old gentleman was quite willing to 
acknowledge their cousinship with a smacking kiss 
on her rosy cheek. 

The long expected regatta was to come off th<i 
following Sunday, a triangular course Capri* 
Posilipo, Sorrento, where the winner was to re- 
ceive the cup from Lady Dufferin's hands. My 
beautiful cutter "Lady Victoria" was as fine a 
boat as Scotland could build, teak and steel, 
ready for every emergency, safe in all weather if 
properly handled, and if ever I knew anything 
worth knowing it was how to steer a boat. The 
two little yachts were sister-boats, Lord Dufferin's 
two daughters had given them their names. Our 
chances were about equal. In a stiff breeze 
and a rough sea I should probably be a loser, 
but I relied on my new jackyard topsail and my 
new silk spinnaker to lift the cup in a light wind 
and a smooth sea. The new sails had arrived 
from England while I was still in Rome and were 
safely hung up in the sailroom in the sole custody 
of old Pacciale, the most trusted of the whole 
household. He well knew the importance of 
his position, he slept with the key under his 
pillow and never allowed anybody to enter the 
sanctuary. Although he had of late years become 
a passionate grave-digger, his heart was still on 
the sea where he had lived and suffered since he 
was a boy as a " pescatore di coralli." In those 


days, before the curse of America had fallen on 
Capri, almost the whole male population went 
coral fishing in "Barbaria," off Tunis and 
Tripoli. It was a terrible job, full of hardships 
and privations, even dangers, for many of them 
never returned to their island. It took Pacciale 
twenty years of toil on the sea to put together 
the three hundred lire needed for a man to take 
a wife. One hundred for the boats and the 
fishing nets, two hundred for the bed, the couple 
of chairs, and a suit of Sunday clothes to get 
married in, the Madonna would see to the rest. 
The girl waited for years, spinning and weaving 
the house linen which it fell to her to provide. 
Like everybody else Pacciale had also inherited 
from his father a strip of land, in his case a mere 
strip of bare rock, by the water's edge, a thousand 
feet below Damecuta. The earth he had carried 
in basketfuls on his back, year after year, till 
there was enough soil to plant a few vines and 
prickly pears. He never made a drop of wine, 
for the young grapes were regularly burnt by 
the salt spray when the S.W. was blowing. Now 
and then he came home with a few new potatoes, 
the first to ripen on the island, which he presented 
to me with great pride. He spent all his spare 
time down in his masseria, scratching the rock 
with his heavy mattock or sjtting on a stone 
looking out on the sea with his clay pipe in his 
mouth. Now and then I used to climb down the 
precipitous cliffs, where a goat would hesitate 
where to put its foot, to pay him a visit to his 
huge delight. Just below our feet was a grotto, 
inaccessible from the sea and unknown even 


today to most people, semi-dark and hung with 
huge stalactites. According to Pacciale it had 
been habited in bygone times by a lupomanaro, 
the mysterious, awe-inspiring werewolf who still 
haunts the imagination of the islanders almost 
as much as Tiberio himself. I knew that the 
fossil tooth I had found under the sand in the 
cave was the tooth of a big mammal who had 
lain down to die here when the island was still 
connected with the mainland and that the 
pieces of flint and obsidian were the fragments 
of the tools of primitive man. Maybe even a 
God had lived there, for the grotto faces East 
and Mithras, the Sun-God, was often worshipped 

But there was no time now for exploring the 
grotto, all my thoughts were settled on the 
coming regatta. I had sent word to Pacciale 
that I was coming to inspect my new sails 
after breakfast. The sailroom was open but to 
my surprise old Pacciale was not there to meet 
me. I thought I was going to faint as I unfolded 
the new sails one by one. There was a big rent 
in my jackyard topsail, my silk spinnaker that 
was to lift the cup was almost split in two, the 
racing jib was soiled and torn to rags. When I 
had recovered my speech, I roared for Pacciale. 
He did not come. I rushed out of the sailroom 
and found him at last standing against the 
garden wall. Mad with rage I raised my hand 
to strike him, he did not move, he did not 
utter a sound, all he did was to bend his head 
and stretch out his arms horizontally against the 
wall. My hand fell, I knew what it meant, I 


had seen it before. It meant that he was going 
to suffer and that he was innocent, it was the 
crucifixion of Our Lord he reproduced with his 
outstretched arms and his bent head. I spoke 
to him as gently as I could but he did not utter 
a sound, he did not move from his cross of 
agony. I put the key of the sailroom in my 
pocket and summoned the whole household. 
Nobody had been in the sailroom, nobody had 
anything to say, but Giovannina hid her face 
in her apron and began to cry, I took her into 
my room and succeeded with the greatest diffi- 
culty in making her speak. I wish I could relate 
the pitiful story word by word as she told it to 
me between her sobs. It nearly made me cry 
myself when I remembered that I had been on 
the point of striking poor old Pacciale. It had 
happened two months ago on the first of May 
when we were still in Rome. You may remember 
the famous first of May many years ago when 
there was to be a social upheaval in all countries 
of Europe, an assault on the rich, a destruction 
of their cursed property. That was at least 
what the newspapers said, the smaller the paper, 
the bigger the impending calamity. The smallest 
paper of all was the ' Voce di San Gennaro ' 
which Maria Porta-Lettere carried twice a week 
in her fish-basket to the parroco to be circulated 
among the intellectuals of the village, a faint 
echo from the happenings of the world resounding 
through the Arcadian peace of Anacapri. But it 
was not a faint echo that reached the ears of 
the intellectuals this time through the columns 
of the ' Voce di San Gennaro.' It was a thunder- 


bolt from the blue sky which shook the whole 
village. It was the long predicted world cata- 
clysm that was to come off on the first of May. 
Enlisted by il Demonio the savage hordes of 
Attila were to ransack the palaces of the rich 
and burn and destroy their belongings. It was 
the beginning of the end, castigo di Dio! Castigo 
di Dio! The news spread like wildfire all over 
Anacapri. The parroco hid the jewels of Sant' 
Antonio and the sacred vessels of the church 
under his bed, the notables dragged their port- 
able belongings down to their wine-cellars. The 
popolo rushed to the Piazza yelling for their 
Patron Saint to be taken out of his shrine and 
carried through the streets for protection. On 
the eve of the fatal day Pacciale went to consult 
the parroco. Baldassare had already been there 
and had left reassured by the parroco's affirma- 
tion that the brigands would surely not care 
in the least for il Signor Dottore's broken stones 
and crockery and roba antica. Baldassare might 
just as well leave all this rubbish where it was 
lying. As to Pacciale who was responsible for 
the sails, he was in a far worse plight, said the 
parroco. If the brigands were to invade the 
island, they must come in boats, and sails were 
a most valuable booty to sea-faring men. To 
hide them in the wine-cellar was running too 
great a risk, for sea-faring men were also fond 
of good wine. Why not carry them down to his 
lonely masseria under the cliffs of Damecuta, it was 
the very place for them, the brigands would surely 
not risk their necks down that precipice to f etch 
them there. 


After dark Pacciale, his brother and two trusted 
compagni, armed with heavy sticks, dragged my 
new sails down to his masseria. The night was 
stormy, soon it rained in torrents, the lantern 
went out, at the peril of their lives they groped 
their way down the slippery cliffs. At midnight 
they reached the masseria and deposited their 
burden in the grotto of the lupomanaro. They 
sat there the whole of the first of May on their 
bundles of drenched sails, one of them in turn 
standing on guard at the entrance of the cave. 
Towards sunset Pacciale resolved to send his 
unwilling brother to reconnoitre in the village 
without exposing himself to any undue risk. 
He returned three hours later to report that 
there was no trace of the brigands, all was going 
on as usual. All the people were in the Piazza, 
candles were lit before the altars in the church, 
Sant'Antonio was to come out on the Piazza 
to receive the thanksgivings of Anacapri for 
having once more saved his village from destruc- 
tion. At midnight the party crept out of the 
grotto and climbed to the village again with 
my drenched sails. When Pacciale discovered 
1he disaster he wanted to drown himself, his 
daughters said they did not dare to leave him 
nut of sight for several days and nights. He 
had never been the same since, he hardly ever 
spoke. I had already noticed it myself and had 
several times asked him what was the matter 
with him. Long before Giovannina had finished 
her confession, all trace of anger had gone out 
of me, I hunted in vain for Pacciale all over 
the village to tell him so. I found him at last 


down in his masseria sitting on his usual stone 
looking out over the sea as was his wont. I 
told him I was ashamed of having raised my 
hand to strike him. It was all the fault of the 
parroco. I did not care a d n about the new 
sails, the old ones were good enough for me. I 
meant to be off for a long cruise on the morrow, 
he was to come with me and we would forget 
all about it. He knew I had always disliked 
his grave-digging, better hand this job over to 
his brother and return to the sea. From to-day 
he was promoted to become my sailor in charge 
of the cutter. Gaetano had been blind drunk 
twice in Calabria and nearly made us go to the 
bottom, I meant to dismiss him in any case. 
When we came home I made him put on the new 
jersey just arrived from England with LADY 
VICTORIA R.C.Y.C. in red letters over the 
breast. He never took it off, he lived in it, he 
died in it. When I first came across Pacciale 
he was already an old man, how old he did not 
know, nor did his daughters, nor did anybody 
else. I had in vain tried to trace his birth in 
the Official Register of the Municipio. He had 
been forgotten from the very beginning. But he 
shall never be forgotten by me. I shall always 
remember him as the most honest, the most 
clean-minded, the most guileless man I have ever 
met in any land and in any station of life, 
gentle as a child. His own children had told 
me they had never heard him say a rash or 
unkind word to their mother or to them. He was 
even kind to animals, he used to take down 
pocketfuls of breadcrumbs to feed the birds in 


his vineyard, he was the only man on the island 
who had not trapped a bird or flogged a donkey. 
A devoted old servant cancels the name of 
master. He had become my friend, the honour 
was mine, he was a far better man than I. 
Although he belonged to another world than I, 
a world almost unknown to me, we understood 
each other quite well. During the long days and 
nights we were together alone on the sea he 
taught me many things I had not read in my 
books or heard from the lips of other men. He 
was a taciturn man, the sea had taught him its 
silence long ago. His thoughts were few and 
so much the better for him. But his sayings 
were full of poetry and the archaic simplicity of 
his similes were pure Greek. Many of his very- 
words were Greek, he remembered them from 
the time he had sailed down that very coast as 
one of the crew in Ulysses' ship. When we were 
at home he continued his life as usual working 
in my garden or down in his beloved masseria by 
the sea. I did not fancy these expeditions up 
and down the steep cliffs, I thought his arteries 
were getting very hard and he often returned 
from his long climb rather out of breath. Other- 
wise he looked just the same, he never complained 
of anything, ate his macaroni with his usual 
appetite and was on his legs from daybreak till 
sunset. All of a sudden he refused one day to 
eat, we tried to coax him with all sorts of things 
but he said no. He admitted that he felt "un 
poco stanco," a little tired, and seemed quite 
content to sit for a couple of days under the 
pergola looking out on the sea. Then he insisted 


upon going down to his masseria, it was with 
great difficulty I persuaded him to remain with 
us. I do not think he knew himself why he 
wanted to go there but I knew it well. It was 
the instinct of primitive man that drove him 
there to hide from other men and lie down to 
die behind a rock, or under a bush or in the grotto 
where many thousands of years ago other primi- 
tive men had lain down to die. Towards noon 
he said he just wanted to lie down for a while 
on his bed, he who had never lain on a bed a 
single day of his life. I asked him several times 
during the afternoon how he felt, he said he 
felt quite well, thank you. Towards evening I 
had his bed moved to the window where he 
could see the sun going down in the sea. When 
I returned after Ave Maria the whole household, 
his brother, his compagni were sitting round the 
room. Nobody had told them to come, I did 
not even know myself it was so near. They 
did not speak, they did not pray, they just sat 
there quite still the whole night. As is the 
custom here, nobody was near the bed. Old 
Pacciale was lying there quite still and peaceful, 
looking out on the sea. It was all so simple 
and solemn, just as it was meant to be when 
a life is about to end. The priest came with 
the Last Sacrament. Old Pacciale was told to 
confess his sins and to ask to be forgiven. He 
nodded his head and kissed the crucifix. The 
priest gave him the absolution. Almighty God 
approved with a smile and said that old Pacciale 
was welcome to Heaven, I thought he was 
already there when all of a sudden he raised 


his hand and stroked my cheek gently, almost 

" Siete buono come il mare," he murmured. 

Good as the sea! 

I do not write down here these words with 
conceit, I write them with wonder. Where did 
these words come from? Surely they came 
from far, they came as an echo from a long- 
forgotten golden age when Pan was still alive, 
when the trees in the forest could speak and the 
waves of the sea could sing and man could listen 
and understand. 


I HAVE been away from San Michele a whole 
year, what a waste of time! I have come 
back with one eye less than when I went away. 
There is nothing more to be said about it, no 
doubt it was in order to prepare for such an 
eventuality that I was made to start life with 
two eyes. I have come back a different man. 
I seem to be looking out on the world with my 
one remaining eye from another angle of vision 
than I did before. I can no more see what is 
ugly and sordid, I can only see what is beautiful 
and sweet and clean. Even the men and women 
around me seem different from what they used 
to be. By a curious optical illusion I can see 
them no more as they are but as they were 
meant to be, as they would have liked to be if 
they had had a chance. I can still see with my 
blind eye a lot of fools strutting about, but 
they do not seem to get on my nerves as they 
used to do, I do not mind their chatter, let them 
have their say. Further I have not come for 
the present, if I am ever to love my fellow 
creatures I fear I shall have to be blinded in 
both my eyes first. I cannot forgive them their 
cruelty to animals. I believe there is a sort of 
retrograde evolution going on in my mind which 



makes me drift further and further away from 
other people and draw closer and closer to Mother 
Nature and to the animals. All these men and 
women around me now seem to me of far less 
importance in the world than hefore. I feel as 
if I had been wasting too much of my time with 
them, as if I could do just as well without them 
as they can do without me. I well know they 
have no further use for me. Better filer a 
Tanglaise before one is turned out. I have 
plenty of other things to do and maybe there is 
not much time left. My wandering about the 
world in search of happiness is over, my life as 
a fashionable doctor is over, my life on the sea 
is over. I am going to stay where I am for 
good and try to make the best of it. But shall 
I be allowed to remain even here in San Michele? 
The whole bay of Naples lies shining like a mirror 
below my feet, the columns on the pergola, the 
loggias and the chapel are all ablaze with light, 
what will become of me if I cannot stand the 
glare? I have given up reading and writing 
and have taken up singing instead, I did not 
sing when all was well, I am also learning type- 
writing, a useful and pleasant pastime, I am 
told, for a single man with a single eye. Each 
hammerstroke of my typewriter strikes simul- 
taneously the MS. and my skull with a knock- 
out blow on the top of every thought that 
ventures to pop out from my brain. I have 
besides never been good at thinking, I seem to go 
on much better without it. There was a com- 
fortable mainroad leading from the brain to the 
pen in my hand. Whatever thoughts I have 


had to spare have groped their way along this 
road ever since they began to tackle the alphabet. 
No wonder if they are apt to lose their bearing 
in this American labyrinth of cogs and wheels! 
In parenthesis I had better warn the reader that 
I can only accept responsibility for what I have 
written with my own hand, not for what has 
been concocted in collaboration with the Corona 
Typewriting Company. I shall be curious to 
see which of the two the reader will like best. 
But if ever I learn to hold on to this boisterous 
Pegasus I mean to sing a humble song to my 
beloved Schubert, the greatest singer of all 
times, to thank him for what I owe him. I owe 
him everything. Even while I was lying week 
after week in the dark with little hope ever to 
get out of it, I used to hum to myself one after 
another of his songs like the schoolboy who 
goes whistling through the dark forest to pretend 
that he is not afraid. Schubert was nineteen 
when he composed the music to Goethe's Erlkonig 
and sent it to him with a humble dedication. I 
shall never forgive the greatest poet of modern 
times for not even having acknowledged this 
letter with a single word of thanks to the man 
who had made his song immortal, the same 
Goethe who had ample time to write letters of 
thanks to Zelter for his mediocre music. Goethe's 
taste in music was as bad as his taste in art, he 
spent a year in Italy understanding nothing of 
Gothic art, the severe beauty of the primitives 
was unintelligible to him, Carlo Dolci and Guido 
Reni were his ideals. Even pure Greek art at 
its best left him cold, the Apollo Belvedere was 

his favourite. Schubert never saw the sea and 
yet no composer, no painter, no poet except 
Homer has ever made us understand its calm 
splendour, its mystery and its anger as he did. 
He had never seen the Nile and yet the opening 
bars of his wonderful Memnon might have 
sounded in the temple of Luxor. Hellenic art 
and literature were unknown to him, except 
what little his friend Mayerhofer might have 
told him, and yet his Die Goiter Griechenlands, 
his Prometheus, his Ganymede, his Fragment au$ 
Aeschylus are masterpieces from the golden age 
of Hellas. He had never been loved by a woman 
and yet no more heartrending cry of passion has 
ever reached our ears than his Gretchen am 
Spinnrade, no more touching resignation than 
his Mignon, no sweeter love-song has ever been 
sung than his Stachnden. He was thirty-one 
when he died, wretchedly poor as he had lived. 
He who had written An die Musik had not even 
a piano of his own! After his death all his earthly 
belongings, his clothes, his few books, his bed were 
sold at auction for sixty-three florins. In a dilapi- 
dated bag under his bed were found a score of 
other immortal songs more worth than all the gold 
of the Rothschilds in their Vienna where he lived 

and died. 

* * * 

Spring has come once more. The air is full of 
it. The ginestra is in bloom, the myrtle is 
budding, the vines are sprouting, flowers every- 
where. Roses and honeysuckle are climbing the 
stems of the cypresses and the columns of the 
pergola. Anemones, crocuses, wild hyacinths, 


violets, orchids, cyclamens are rising out of the 
sweet-scented grass. Clusters of Campanula 
gracilis and deep-blue Lithospermum, blue as the 
Blue Grotto, are springing out of the very rock. 
The lizards are chasing each other among the ivy. 
The tortoises are cantering about singing lustily 
to themselves perhaps you do not know that 
tortoises can sing? The mongoose seems more 
restless than ever. The little Minerva owl flaps 
her wings as if she meant to fly off to look up a 
friend in the Roman Campagna. Barbarossa, 
the big Maremma dog, has vanished on errands 
of his owi, even my rickety old Tappio looks as 
if he would not mind a little spree in Lapland. 
Billy wanders up and down under his fig-tree 
with a twinkle in his eye and an unmistakable 
air of a young man about town, up to anything. 
Giovannina is having long talks under the garden 
wall with her sunburnt amoroso, it is all right', 
they are going to be married after Sant' Antonio. 
The sacred mountain above San Michele is full 
of birds on their way home to mate and rear 
their young. What a joy to me that they can 
rest there in peace! Yesterday I picked up a 
poor little skylark, so exhausted from his long 
journey across the sea that he didn't even at- 
tempt to fly away, he sat quite still in the palm 
of my hand as if he understood it was the hand 
of a friend, perhaps a compatriot I asked him 
if he wouldn't sing me a song before he went off 
again, there was no bird-song I liked better than 
his; but he said he had no time to spare, he had 
to hurry home to Sweden to sing the summer in. 
For more than a week the flute-like notes of a 


golden oriole have been sounding in my garden. 
The other day I caught sight of his bride hiding in 
a laurel bush. To-day I have seen their nest, a 
marvel of bird-architecture. There is also much 
fluttering of wings and a soft murmur of bird-voices 
in the thicket of rosemary by the chapel. I pretend 
to know nothing about it, but I am pretty sure 
some flirtation is going on there; I wonder what 
bird it can be? Last night the secret came out, for 
just as I was going to bed a nightingale started 
singing Schubert's Serenade under my window: 

Leise flehen meine Lieder 

Durch die Nacht zu dir 
In den stillen Hain hernieder 

Liebchen, komm zu mir. 

"What a beautiful girl Peppinella has turned 
out/' thought I as I was falling asleep ; " I wonder 
if Peppinella . . ." 


^TMIE c Story of San Michele ' ends abruptly 
A here just when it was about to begin, a 
meaningless fragment. It ends with the fluttering 
of wings and the twitter of birds and the air full 
of spring. Would that the meaningless story of 
my own life would end just so with the birds 
singing under my window and the sky bright 
with light 1 I have been thinking so much 
about death these last days, I do not know why. 
The garden is still full of flowers, the butterflies 
and the bees are still on the wing, the lizards 
are still sunning themselves among the ivy, the 
earth is still teeming with the life of all creeping 
things. Not later than yesterday I heard a 
belated warbler singing lustily under my window. 
Why should I think about death? God in His 
mercy has made Death invisible to the eyes of 
man. We know He is there, close on our heels 
like our shadow, never losing sight of us. Yet 
we never see Him, hardly ever think about Him. 
Strangest of all, the further we advance towards 
our graves, the further does Death recede from 
our thoughts. Indeed it needed a God to perform 
such a miracle! 

Old people seldom talk about death, their dim 
eyes seem unwilling to focus anything but the 
past and the present. Gradually, as their 
memory weakens, even the past becomes more 



and more indistinct, and they live almost entirely 
in the present. That is why, granted their days 
are tolerably exempt from bodily suffering as 
nature meant them to be, old people are gen- 
erally less unhappy than young people would 
expect them to be. 

We know that we are going to die, in fact it 
is the only thing we know of what is in store xor 
us. All the rest is mere guesswork, and most of 
the time we guess wrong. Like children in the 
trackless forest we grope our way through our 
lives in blissful ignorance of what is going to 
happen to us from one day to another, what 
hardships we may have to face, what more or 
less thrilling adventures we may encounter 
before the great adventure, the most thrilling 
of all, the Adventure of Death. Now and then 
in our perplexity we venture to put a timid 
question to our destiny, but we get no answer 
for the stars are too far away. The sooner we 
realize that our fate lies in ourselves and not in 
the stars, so much the better for us. Happiness 
we can only find in ourselves, it is a waste of 
time to seek for it from others, few have any to 
spare. Sorrow we have to bear alone as best 
we can, it is not fair to try to shift it on others, 
be they men or women. We have to fight our 
own battles and strike as hard as we can, born 
fighters as we are. Peace will come one day for 
all of us, peace without dishonor even to the 
vanquished if he has tried to do his bit as long 
as he could. 

As for me, the battle is over and lost. I have 
been driven out of San Michele, the labor of a 


lifetime. I had built it stone by stone with my 
own hands in the sweat of my brow, I had built 
it on my knees to be a sanctuary to the Sun 
where I was to seek knowledge and light from 
the glorious god I had been worshipping my 
whole life. I had been warned over and over 
again by the fire in my eyes that I was not 
worthy to live there, that my place was in the 
shade, but I had paid no heed to the warnings. 
Like the horses returning to their burning 
stables to perish in the flames, I had come back, 
summer after summer to the blinding light of San 
Michele. Beware of the light, beware of the light! 

I have accepted my fate at last, I am too old 
to fight a god. I have retreated to my strong- 
hold in the old tower where I mean to make a 
last stand. Dante was still alive when the monks 
set to work to build the Tower of Materita, half 
monastery, half fortress, strong as the rock it stands 
upon. How often has not his bitter cry of: 
" Nessun maggior dolore che ricordarsi del tempo 
f elice nella miseria " echoed through its walls since 
I came here. But was he right after all, the Flor- 
entine seer? Is it true that there is no greater 
suffering than to remember our past happiness in 
our misery? I for one do not think so. It is with 
joy and not with sorrow that my thoughts go 
back to San Michele, where I have lived the hap- 
piest years of my life. But it is true I do not 
like to go there myself any more I feel as if I 
were intruding upon sacred ground, sacred to a 
past which can never return, when the world was 
young and the sun was my friend. 

It is good to wander about in the soft light 


under the olives of Materita. It is good to sit 
and dream in the old tower, it is about the only 
thing I can do now. The tower looks towards 
the West, where the sun sets. Soon the sun 
will sink into the sea, then comes the twilight, then 
comes the night. 

It has been a beautiful day. 


The last ray of golden light looked in through 
the Gothic window and wandered round the 
old tower from the illuminated missals and the 
thirteenth century silver crucifix on the walls to 
the dainty Tanagras and the Venetian glasses on 
the refectory table, from the flower-crowned 
nymphs and bacchants dancing to the flute of 
Pan on the Greek basrelief to the pale features 
on gold ground of St. Francis, the beloved 
Umbrian saint, with St. Claire, lilies in hand, by 
his side. Now a halo of gold encircled the still 
face of the Florentine Madonna, now the stern 
marble goddess, the Artemis Laphria, the swift 
arrow of Death in her quiver, stood out from the 
gloom. Now a radiant Solar Disk crowned 
once more the mutilated head of Akhanaten, the 
royal dreamer on the banks of the Nile, the Son 
of the Sun. Close by stood Osiris, the judge of 
the soul of man, and the falcon-headed Horus, 
the mysterious Isis and Nepthys, her sister, with 
Anubis, the watcher of the grave, crouching at 
their feet. 

The light faded away, night drew near. 

" God of day, Giver of light, cannot You stay 


with me a little longer? The night is so long for 
thoughts that dare not dream of sunrise, the night 
is so dark for eyes that cannot see the stars. Can- 
not you grant me a few seconds more of your radi- 
ant eternity to behold your beautiful world, the 
beloved sea, the wandering clouds, the glorious 
mountains, the rustling streams, the friendly trees, 
the flowers among the grass, the birds and beasts, 
my brothers and sisters, in the sky and in the forests 
and the fields? Cannot you leave me at least a 
few wild flowers in my hand to warm my heart, 
cannot you leave me a few stars in your heaven to 
show me the way? 

" If I am no longer to see the features of men 
and women around me, cannot you at least 
grant me a fugitive glance in the face of a little 
child or a friendly animal? I have looked into 
the face of man and woman for long, I know it 
well, it has little more to teach me. It is monot- 
onous reading when compared to what I have read 
in God's own bible, in the mysterious face of 
Mother Nature. Dear old nurse, who has dispelled 
so many evil thoughts from my burning forehead 
by the gentle stroke of your wrinkled old hand, 
do not leave me alone in the dark. I am afraid 
of the dark! Stay with me a little longer, tell 
me a few more of your wonderful fairy-tales while 
you put your restless child to bed for the long 
night's sleep! 

"Light of the world, alas! you are a God, 
and no prayer of mortal man has ever reached 
your heaven. How can I, the worm, hope for 
pity from you, merciless Sungod, from you who 
forsook even the great Pharaoh Akhanaten 


whose immortal Hymn to the Sun echoed over 
the valley of the Nile five hundred years before 
Homer sang: 

'When Thou risest all the land is in joy and 

And men say: It is Life to see Thee, it is 

Death not seeing Thee. 
West and East give praise to Thee, When Thou 

hast risen they live, 
When thou settest they die/ " 

Yet you looked on with no pity in your 
shining eye while the gods of old hurled the 
temple of your greatest worshipper in the Nile 
and tore the Solar Disk from his brow and the royal 
vulture from his breast and erased his hated name 
from the wrappings of sheeted gold round his frail 
body, condemning his nameless soul to wander in 
the underworld through all eternity. 

Long after the gods of the Nile, the gods of 
Olympus and the gods of Walhalla had fallen into 
dust, another worshipper of yours, St. Francis of 
Assisi, the sweet singer of II Canto del Sole, raised 
his arms to your heaven, immortal Sungod, with 
the same prayer on his lips that I am addressing 
you to-day, that you should not take away your 
blessed light from his ailing eyes, worn out by 
vigil and tears. Earnestly besought by the breth- 
ren he journeyed to Rieti to consult a famous 
eye-doctor and submitted fearlessly to the opera- 
tion advised by him. When the surgeon placed 
the iron in the fire to heat it St. Francis spoke to 
the fire as to a friend, saying: 

"Brother Fire, before all other things the Most 


Holy has created Thee of exceeding comeliness, 
powerful, beauteous and useful. Be Thou to me 
in this my hour merciful, be courteous. I beseech 
the Great Lord who has created Thee that He may 
temper for me Thy heat that I may be able pa- 
tiently to endure Thy burning me." 

When he had finished his prayer over the iron, 
glistening with heat, he made the sign of the cross 
and remained steadfastly unflinching while the 
hissing iron was plunged into the tender flesh, and 
from the ear to the eyebrow the cautery was 

"Brother Medico," said St. Francis to the 
physician, "if it is not well burnt, thrust in 

And the physician, beholding in the weakness 
of the flesh such wondrous strength of spirit, 
marvelled and said: 

" I tell you, brethren, I hare seen strange things 
to-day! " 

Alas! the saintliest of all men prayed in vain, 
suffered in vain, you forsook II Poverello as you 
had forsaken the great Pharaoh. When on their 
homeward journey the faithful brethren de- 
posited the litter with its frail burden under the 
olive-trees by the foot of the hill, St. Francis 
could no longer see his beloved Assisi as he raised 
his hands to give it his last blessing. 

How then can I, the sinner, the humblest of 
all your worshippers, hope for mercy from you, 
impassive Ruler of Life! How dare I ask for 
yet another favour from you, from you who has 
already given me so many precious gifts with 
lavish hands! You gave me my eyes to sparkle 

WOLF 511 

with joy and to fill with tears, you gave me my 
heart to throb with longing and to bleed with pity, 
you gave me sleep, you gave me hope. 

I thought you gave it all to me as a gift. I 
was mistaken. It was only a loan, and now 
you want it all returned to you to be handed 
over to another being who will rise in his turn 
out of the same eternity into which I am sinking 
back. Lord of Light, be it so! The Lord gave 
and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name 
of the Lord! 


The bells in the Campanile were ringing Ave 
Maria. A light wind rustled through the 
cypresses outside the window where the birds 
were twittering before settling to sleep. The voice 
of the sea grew fainter and fainter and the blessed 
silence of the night fell over the old tower. 

I sat there in my Savonarola chair, weary and 
longing for rest. Wolf lay asleep at my feet, 
for days and nights he had hardly left my side. 
Now and then he opened his eyes and gave me 
a look so full of love and sorrow that it almost 
filled my own with tears. Now and then he sat 
up and laid his big head on my knees. Did he 
know what I knew, did he understand what I 
understood, that the hour for parting was 
drawing near? I stroked his head in silence, 
for the first time I did not know what to say to 
him, how to explain to him the great mystery I 
could not explain to myself. 

"Wolf, I am going away on a long journey, 
to a far off land. This time you cannot come 


with me, my friend. You have to stay behind 
where you are, where you and I have lived 
together for so long, sharing good and evil. You 
must not mourn for me, you must forget me as 
everybody else will forget me, for such is the 
law of life. Do not worry, I shall be all right 
and so will you. Everything that could be done 
for your happiness has been done. You will 
live on in your old familiar surroundings where 
friendly people will look after you with the same 
loving care that I did. You will have your 
ample meal set before you every day as the bells 
ring mezzogiorno, and your succulent bones 
twice a week as before. The large garden where 
you used to romp is still yours, and even should 
you forget the law and start chasing a poaching 
cat under the olive trees I shall continue from 
where I am, to turn my blind eye on the chase, 
closing the good one as I used to do for friend- 
ship's sake. Then when your limbs have grown 
stiff and your eyes dim you will rest for good 
tinder the antique marble column in the cypress 
grove by the old tower at the side of your com- 
rades who have gone there before you. And when 
all is said, who knows if we shall not meet again? 
Great or small our chances are the same." 

"Do not go away, stay with me or take me 
with you," pleaded the faithful eyes. 

" I am going to a land I know nothing about. 
I do not kiiow what will happen to me there, 
and still less do I know what would happen to 
you, if you came with me. I have read strange 
tales about this land, but they are only tales, 
nobody who went there has ever returned to 


tell us what he saw. One man alone might 
have told us, but he was the son of a God, and 
he went 'back to His Father, his lips sealed in 
inscrutable silence." 

I stroked the big head, but my benumbed 
hands no longer felt the touch of his glossy coat. 

As I bent down to kiss him good-bye a sudden 
fear shone in his eyes, he drew back in terror and 
crept to his couch under the refectory table. I 
called him back but he did not come. I knew 
what it meant. I had seen it before. I had 
thought there might have been still another day 
or two left. I stood up and tried to go to the 
window for a deep breath of air, but my limbs 
refused to obey, and I sank back in my chair. 
I looked round the old tower. All was dark and 
silent, but I thought I heard Artemis, the stern 
goddess, taking her swift arrow from her quiver, 
ready to raise her bow. An invisible hand touched 
my shoulder. A shiver ran through my body. I 
thought I was going to faint, but I felt no pain 
and my head was clear. 

"Welcome, Sire! I heard the galloping of 
your black charger through the night, you have 
won the race after all, for I can still see your 
sombre face as you bend over me. You are no 
stranger to me, we have often met before ever 
since we stood side by side by a bed in Salle St. 
Claire. I used then to call you wicked and 
cruel, an executioner enjoying the slow torture 
of his victim. I did not know Life then as I 
know it now. I know now that you are by far the 
more merciful of the two, that what you take away 
with one hand you give back with the other. I 


know now that it was Life, not you that lit the 
terror in those wide open eyes and strained the 
muscle in those heaving chests for yet another 
breath of air, yet another minute of agony. 

" I for one am not going to wrestle with you to- 
day. Had you come to me when the blood was 
young it would have been another matter. 
There was plenty of life in me then. I would 
have put up a good fight and hit back as hard 
as I could. Now I am weary, my eyes are dim, 
my limbs are tired and my heart is worn out, 
I have only my head left to me, and my head 
tells me it is no use fighting. So I shall sit still 
in my Savonarola chair and leave you to do 
what you have to do. I am curious to see how 
you are going to set to work, I have always been 
interested in physiology. I had better warn 
you I was made of good stuff, hit as hard as you 
can or you might miss the mark once more as you 
have already missed it a couple of times unless 
I am mistaken. I hope, sire, that you do not 
bear me any grudge from bygone times. Alas! 
I fear I used to keep you rather busy in those 
days in Avenue de Villiers. Pray, sir, I am not 
as brave as I pretend to be, if you would just 
give me a few drops of your eternal sleeping 
draught before you begin, I should be grateful." 

" I always do and you for one ought to know 
it, you who have seen me at work so often. Do 
you wish to send for a priest, there is still time. 
They always send for a priest when they see me 

" It is no use sending for the priest, he can do 
nothing for me now. It is too late for me to 


repent and too early for him to condemn, and I 
suppose it matters little to you either way." 

" I do not care, good men or bad men are all 
the same to me." 

" It is no good sending for a priest who will 
only tell me that I was born evil, that my thoughts 
and my deeds were stained with sin, that I must 
repent it all, retract it all. I repent little I have 
done, I retract nothing, I have lived accord- 
ing to my instinct and I believe my instinct was 
sound. I have made a fool of myself often 
enough when I tried to be guided by my reason. 
It was because my reason was at fault, and I 
have already been punished for it. I wish to 
thank those who have been kind to me. Enemies 
I have had few, most of them were doctors, they 
did me but little harm, I went on my way just 
the same. I wish to ask forgiveness from those 
to whom I have given pain. That is all, the rest 
concerns God and myself, not the priest, whom 
I do not accept as my judge." 

" I do not like your priests. It is they who 
have taught men to fear my approach with their 
menace of eternity and their flaming hell. It is 
they who have torn the wings from my shoulders 
and disfigured my friendly face and turned me 
into a hideous skeleton to wander from house to 
house, scythe in hand, like a thief in the night 
and to dance their Danse Macabre in the frescoes 
on their cloister walls, hand in hand with their 
saints and their damned. I have nothing to do 
either with their heaven or with their hell. I am 
a Natural Law." 

" I heard a golden oriole sing in the garden 


yesterday, and just as the sun went down a little 
warbler came and sang to me under the window* 
shall I ever hear him again? " 

" Where there are angels there are birds." 

" I wish a friendly voice could read the ' Phaedo * 
to me once more." 

" The voice was mortal, the words are immortal, 
you will hear them again." 

" Shall I ever hear again the sounds of Mozart's 
Requiem, my beloved Schubert and the titan chords 
of Beethoven? " 

" It was only an echo from Heaven you over- 

" I am ready. Strike friend ! " 

" I am not going to strike. I am going to put 
you to sleep." 

" Shall I awake? " 

No answer came to my question. 

" ShaU I dream? " 

" Yes, it is all a dream." 

* # * 

"Who are you, beautiful boy? Are you 
Hypnos, the Angel of Sleep? " 

He stood there close by my side with flower 
crowned locks and dreamheavy forehead, beautiful 
as the Genius of Love. 

" I am his brother, born of the same Mother 
Night. Thanatos is my name. I am the Angel 
of Death. It is thy life that is flickering out in 
the light of the torch I tread under my foot." 

* * # 

I dreamt I saw an old man staggering wearily 
along on his lonely road. Now and then he 
looked upwards as if in search of someone to 


show him the way. Now and then he sank 
down on his knees as if he had no more strength 
to struggle on. Already the fields and forests, 
the rivers and the seas lay under his feet, and 
soon even the snow-capped mountains dis- 
appeared in the mist of the vanishing earth. 
Onwards, upwards went his way. Storm driven 
clouds lifted him on their mighty shoulders and 
carried him with vertiginous speed through the 
vastness of the infinite, beckoning stars led him 
nearer and nearer to the land that knows of no 
night, no death. He stood at last before the 
Gates of Heaven riveted with golden hinges to 
the adamantine rock. The gates were closed. 
Was it an eternity, was it a day, was it a minute 
he knelt on the threshold hoping against hope 
to be let in? Suddenly, moved by invisible 
hands, the mighty doors swung wide open to 
let pass a floating form with the wings of an 
angel and the still face of a sleeping child. He 
sprang to his feet and with the audacity of 
despair he stole in through the Gates just as they 
were closing before him. 

"Who art thou, daring intruder?" a stern 
voice called out. A tall figure, robed in a white 
mantle, the golden key in his hands, stood 
before me. 

"Keeper of the Gates of Heaven, holy St. 
Peter, I beseech Thee, let me stay! " 

St. Peter glanced rapidly at my credentials, the 
scanty records of my life on earth. 

" It looks bad," said St. Peter. " Very bad. 
How did you come here, I am sure there must 
be some mistake. . . ." 


He stopped abruptly as a tiny messenger angel 
alighted swiftly in front of us. Folding Ms 
purple wings he adjusted his short tunic of 
gossamer and petals of roses, all glistening with 
morning dew. His little legs were bare and rosy 
like the rose petals, on his tiny feet were golden 
sandals. Cocked on one side of his curly head 
he wore a fairy cap of tulips and lilies of the 
valley. His eyes were full of sunglitter and his 
lips were full of joy. In his small hands he held 
an illuminated missal, which he presented to 
St. Peter with a smiling air of importance. 

"They always turn to me when they are in 
trouble," frowned St. Peter as he read the 
missal. "When all is well, they pay no heed 
to my warnings. Tell them,*' he said to the 
messenger angel, " tell them I am coming at once, 
tell them to answer no questions till I am. with 

The messenger angel lifted his rosy finger to 
his tulip cap, unfolded his purple wings and flew 
away swift as a bird and singing like one. 

St. Peter looked perplexedly at me with his 
scrutinizing eyes. Turning to an aged arch- 
angel who, leaning on his drawn sword, stood on 
guard by the golden curtain, St. Peter said 
pointing towards me: 

"Let him await my return here. He is 
audacious and cunning, his tongue is smooth, 
see that he does not unloosen yours. We all 
have our weaknesses, I know which is yours. 
There is something strange about this spirit, I 
cannot even understand how he came here. For 
all I know he may belong to that same tribe 


which allured you away from Heaven to follow 
Lucifer and caused your fall. Be on your guard, 
be silent, be vigilant 1 " 

He was gone. I looked at the aged archangel, 
and the aged archangel looked at me. I thought 
it wiser to say nothing, but I watched him from 
the corner of my eye. Presently I saw him 
unbuckle his sword belt and with great pre- 
caution put his sword against a column of lapis- 
lazuli. He looked quite relieved. His old face 
was so kind, his eyes were so mild that I felt sure 
he was all for peace like myself. 

" Venerable Archangel," I said timidly, " shall 
I have to wait long for St. Peter? " 

" I heard the trumpets sounding in the Hall 
of Judgment," said the Archangel, "they are 
judging two cardinals who have summoned St. 
Peter to assist them in their defence. No, I do 
not think you will have to wait for long/* he 
added with a chuckle, "as a rule not even St. 
Ignatius, the sharpest lawyer in Heaven, suc- 
ceeds in wriggling them through. The Public 
Prosecutor is more than a match for him. He 
was a monk called Savonarola whom they burned 
at the stake." 

" God is the Supreme Judge and not man," I 
said, " and God is merciful." 

" Yes, God is the Supreme Judge and God is 
merciful," repeated the Archangel. "But God 
rules over countless worlds, far greater in splen- 
dour and wealth than the half-forgotten little 
star these two men came from." 

The archangel took me by the hand and led 
me to the open archway. With awe-stricken 


eyes I saw thousands of luminous stars and 
planets, all pulsating with life and light, wending 
their predestined ways through the infinite. 

" Do you see that tiny little speck, dim like the 
light of a tallow candle on the point of flickering 
out? That is the world these two men came from, 
crawling ants on a clod of earth." 

" God created their world and He created them/* 
said I. 

"Yes, God created their world. He ordered 
the sun to melt the frozen bowels of their earth, 
He cleansed it with rivers and seas, He clad its 
rugged surface with forests and fields, He peopled 
it with friendly animals. The world was beau- 
tiful and all was well. Then on the last day He 
created Man. Maybe it would have been better 
had He rested the day before He created Man 
instead of the day after. I suppose you know 
how it all came about. One day a huge monkey 
maddened by hunger set to work with his horny 
hands to forge himself weapons to slay the other 
animals. WTiat could the six-inches long canines 
of the Machaerodus do against his sharpened 
flint, sharper than the fang of the sabre toothed 
tiger? What could the sickle like claws of the 
Ursus Spelaeus do against his tree branch, studded 
with thorns and twig-spikes and set with razor- 
edged shells? What could their wild strength 
do against his cunning, his snares, his pitfalls? 
So he grew up, a brutish Protanthropos slaying 
friends and foes, a fiend to all living things, a 
Satan among animals. Erect over his victims 
he raised his blood stained banner of victory 
over the animal world, crowning himself king of 

THE WAE 521 

creation. Selection straightened Ms facial angle 
and enlarged his brain pan. His raucous cry of 
wrath and fear grew into articulate sounds and 
words. He learned to tame fire. Slowly he 
evolved into man. His cubs sucked the blood from 
the palpitating flesh of the animals he had slain, 
and fought among themselves like hungry wolf- 
lings for the marrowbones his formidable jaws 
had cracked and strewn about his cave. So they 
grew up, strong and fierce like himself, bent on 
prey, eager to attack and devour any living thing 
that crossed their path, even were it one of their 
own foster brothers. The forest trembled at then- 
approach, the fear of man was born amongst the 
animals. Soon, infuriated by their lust of murder, 
they started slaying one another with their stone 
axes. The ferocious war began, the war which 
has never ceased. 

" Anger shone in the eyes of the Lord, He re- 
pented having created man. And the Lord said: 

" * I will destroy man from the face of the earth, 
corrupt as he is and full of violence.' 

" He ordered the fountains of the great deep 
to be broken up and the windows of Heaven to 
be opened to engulf man and the world he had 
polluted with blood and crime. Would that He 
had drowned them alll But in His faithful mercy 
He willed their world to emerge once more 
cleansed and purified by the waters of the Flood. 
The curse remained in the seed of the few of the 
doomed race He had suffered to remain in the Ark. 
The murder began again, the never ceasing war 
was let loose once more. 

" God looked on with infinite patience, reluc- 


tant to strike, willing to the last to forgive. He 
even sent down His own Son to their wicked world 
to teach men mildness and love and to pray for 
them: you know what they did to Him. Hurling 
defiance against Heaven they soon set their whole 
world ablaze with the flames of Hell. With Sa- 
tanic cunning they forged themselves new weapons 
to murder each other. They harnessed death to 
swoop down upon their dwellings from the very 
sky, they polluted the life giving air with the 
vapours of Hell. The thunderous roar of their 
battles shakes their whole earth. When the firma- 
ment is wrapped in night we up here can see the 
very light of their star shining red as if stained 
with blood and we can hear the moaning of their 
wounded. One of the angels who surround the 
throne of God has told me that the eyes of the 
Madonna are red with tears every morning and 
that the wound in the side of Her Son has opened 

"But God himself who is the God of mercy,, 
how can He suffer these torments to go on? " I 
asked. "How can He listen impassive to these 
cries of anguish? " 

The aged archangel looked around uneasily lest 
his answer might be overheard, 

" God is old and weary," he whispered as if awe- 
struck by the sound of his own words, " and His 
Heart is grieved. Those who surround Him and 
watch over Him with their infinite love, have not 
the heart to disturb His rest with these never end- 
ings tidings of horror and woe. Often He wakes 
up from His haunted slumber and asks what 
causes the roar of thunder that reaches His ears 


and the flashes of lurid light that pierce the dark- 
ness. And those around Him say that the thunder 
is the voice from His own storm driven clouds 
and the flashes are the flashes of His own lightning. 
And His tired eyelids close again." 

"Better so, venerable Archangel, better so! 
For if His eyes had seen what I have seen and 
His ears had heard what I have heard, it would 
have repented the Lord once more that He had 
created man. Once more He would have ordered 
the fountains of the great deep to be broken up to 
destroy man. This time He would have drowned 
them all and left only the animals in the ark." 

" Beware of the wrath of Godl Beware of the 
wrath of God! " 

" I am not afraid of God. But I am afraid of 
those who once were men, of the stern prophets, 
of the Holy Fathers, of St. Peter, whose severe 
voice bade me await here his return." 

" I am rather afraid of St. Peter myself," ad- 
mitted the aged Archangel, "you heard how he 
rebuked me for having been led astray by Lucifer. 
I have been forgiven by God himself and suf- 
fered to return to His Heaven. Does St. Peter 
not know that to forgive means to forget? You 
are right, the prophets are severe. But they 
are just, they were enlightened by God, and they 
speak with His own voice. The Holy Fathers can 
only read the thoughts of another man by the 
dim light of mortal eyes, their voices are the voices 
of men." 

" No man knows another man. How can they 
judge what they do not know, what they do not 
understand? I wish St. Francis was among my 


judges, I have loved him my whole life and he 
knows me, he understands me." 

" St. Francis has never judged anybody, he has 
only forgiven like Christ himself, who lays His 
hand in his as if He was his brother. St. Francis 
is not often seen in the Hall of Judgment where 
you soon will stand, he is not even much liked 
there. Many of the martyrs and saints are jeal- 
ous of his holy stigmata, and more than one of 
the Peers of Heaven feel somewhat uncomfort- 
able in their gorgeous mantles all embroidered with 
gold and precious stones, when * II Poverello ' 
appears amongst them in his torn and thread- 
bare cassock, all in rags from wear and tear. The 
Madonna keeps on mending and patching it as 
well as she can, she says it is no good getting 
him a new ca'ssock, for he would only give it 

" I wish I could see him, I long to ask him a 
question I have asked myself my whole life, if 
anybody can answer that question it is he. Maybe 
you, wise old Archangel, can tell me? Where do 
the souls of the friendly animals go to? Where 
is their Heaven? I should like to know because, 
because I have . . ." 

I dared not say more. 

" ' In my father's house there are many man- 
sions ' said our Lord. God who has created the 
animals will see to that. Heaven is vast enough 
to shelter them also." 

" Listen," whispered the old Archangel pointing 
his finger towards the open archway, " Listen! " 

A suave harmony, borne on strings of harps 
and sweet voices of children, reached my ears as 


I looked out over the gardens of Heaven, all fra- 
grant with the scent of Elysian flowers. 

"Lift thy eyes and see," said the Archangel, 
reverently bending his head. 

Ere my eyes had discerned the halo of pale 
gold round her head, my heart had recognized 
her. What an incomparable painter was he not, 
Sandro Botticelli! There she came just as he had 
so often painted her, so young, so pure, and yet 
with that tender watchfulness of motherhood in 
her eyes. Flower crowned maidens with smil- 
ing lips and girlish eyes surrounded Her with 
eternal spring, tiny angels with folded wings of 
purple and gold held up Her mantle, others 
stretched a carpet of roses before Her feet. St. 
Clare, the beloved of St. Francis, whispered in 
the Madonna's ear and it almost seemed to me as 
if the Mother of Christ had deigned to look at me 
for a moment as she passed by. 

" Fear not," said the Archangel softly, " fear 
not, the Madonna has seen you, she will remember 
you in her prayers." 

" St. Peter tarries," said the Archangel, " he is 
fighting a hard battle with Savonarola for the 
rescue of his cardinals." 

He lifted a corner of the golden curtain and 
glanced down the peristyle. 

" Do you see that friendly spirit in his white robe 
and a flower stuck over his ear? I often have a 
little chat with him, "he is beloved by us all here, 
he is as simple and innocent as a child. I often 
watch him with curiosity, he always walks about 
by himself picking up angel's feathers fallen on 
the ground, he has tied them into a sort of feather 


broom, and when he thinks nobody sees him he 
bends down to sweep a little star dust from the 
golden floor. He does not seem to know himself 
why he does it, he says he cannot help it. I wonder 
who he was in life. He came here not long ago, 
he may be able to tell you all you want to know 
about the Last Judgment/' 

I looked at the white robed spirit, it was my 
friend Arcangelo Fusco, the street sweeper from 
the Italian poor quarter in Paris! The same hum- 
ble, guileless eyes, the same flower stuck over his 
ear, the rose he had offered with southern gallantry 
to the Countess the day I had taken her to present 
the dolls to the Salvatore children. 

" Dear Arcangelo Fusco," said I stretching out 
my hands towards my friend, " I never doubted 
you would come here/* 

He looked at me with serene indifference as if 
he did not know me. 

"Arcangelo Fusco, don't you recognize me, 
don't you remember me? Don't you remember 
how tenderly you nursed night and day Salva- 
tore's children when they had diphtheria, how you 
sold your Sunday clothes to pay for the coffin 
when the eldest child died, the little girl you 
loved so? " 

A shadow of suffering passed over his face. 

" I do not remember." 

"Ah! my friend! what a tremendous secret 
you are revealing to me with" these words! What 
a load you are taking from my heart! You do not 
remember! But how is it that I remember? " 

" Perhaps you are not really dead, perhaps you 
are only dreaming you are dead." 


" I have been a dreamer my whole life, if this is 
a dream it is the most wonderful of all." 

" Perhaps your memory was stronger than mine, 
strong enough to survive for a while the parting 
from the body. I do not know, I do not under- 
stand, it is all too deep for me. I do not ask any 

" That is why you are here, my friend. But tell 
me, Arcangelo Fusco, does nobody up here remem- 
ber his life on earth? " 

" They say not, they say only those who go to 
Hell remember, that is why it is called Hell." 

"But tell me at least, Arcangelo Fusco, was 
the trial hard, were the judges severe? " 

" They looked rather severe at first, I was be- 
ginning to tremble all over, I was afraid they were 
going to ask me for particulars about the Neapoli- 
tan shoemaker who had taken my wife away 
from me and whom I had stabbed with his own 
knife. But luckily they did not want to know 
anything about the shoemaker. All they asked me 
was, if I had handled any gold and I said I had 
never had anything but coppers in my hands. 
They asked me if I had hoarded any goods or 
possessions of any kind, and I said I possessed 
nothing but the shirt I had died in in the hospital. 
They asked me nothing more and let me in. 
Then came an angel with a huge parcel in his 

" * Take off your old shirt and put on your Sun- 
day clothes/ said the angeL Would you believe 
it, it was my old Sunday clothes I had sold to pay 
the undertaker, all embroidered by the angels with 
pearls, you will see me wear them next Sunday if 


you are still here. Then came another angel with 
a hig moneybox in his hands. 

" ' Open it/ said the angel, ' it is all your sav- 
ings, all the coppers you gave away to those as 
poor as yourself. All you give away on earth is 
saved for you in Heaven, all you keep is lost/ 

" Would you believe it, there was not a single 
copper in the moneybox, all my coppers had been 
turned into gold." 

" I say,'* he added in a whisper lest the arch- 
angel should hear us, " I do not know who you 
are but you look rather badly off, do not take it 
amiss if I just tell you that you are welcome to 
anything you like from the moneybox. I said 
to the angel I did not know what to do with all 
this money, and the angel told me to give it to 
the first beggar I should meet." 

"Would that I had followed your example, 
Arcangelo Fusco, and I should not be as badly off 
as I am to-day. Alas! I did not give away my 
Sunday clothes, that is why I am all in rags now. 
Indeed it is a great relief to me that they did not 
ask you for particulars about the Neapolitan 
shoemaker you dispatched to another world. 
God knows how many shoemakers' lives I might 
have been made to answer for, I who have been 
a doctor for over thirty years! " 

The golden curtain was drawn aside by in- 
visible hands and an angel stood before us. 

"Your time has come to appear before your 
judges," said the old Archangel. "Be humble 
and be silent, above all be silent! Remember it 
was speech that brought about my fall, so it will 
bring about yours if you loosen your tongue." 


" I say," whispered Arcangelo Fusco, blinking 
cunningly at me, "I think you'd better take no 
unnecessary risks. If I were you I wouldn't say 
anything about the other shoemakers you spoke 
about. I didn't say anything about my shoe- 
maker since they didn't ask me about him. 
After all perhaps they never knew anything about 
him chi lo sa? " 

The angel took me by the hand and led me 
down the peristyle to the Hall of Judgment, vast 
as the Hall of Osiris with columns of jasper and 
opal and capitals of golden lotus flowers and 
shafts of sunbeams supporting its mighty vault 
all strewn with the stars of Heaven. 

I lifted my head and I saw myriads of martyrs 
and saints in their white robes, hermits, anchor- 
ites and stylites, their wild features scorched 
by the Nubian sun, naked cenobites with their 
emaciated bodies covered by a fell of hair, stern- 
eyed prophets, their long beards spread over 
their chests, holy apostles with palm branches 
in their hands, patriarchs and Fathers of all lands 
and all creeds, a few popes in their glittering 
tiaras and a couple of cardinals in their red robes. 
Seated in a semicircle in front of me sat my 
judges, stern and impassible. 

" It looks bad," said St. Peter handing them 
my credentials, " very badl " 

St. Ignatius, the Grand Inquisitor, rose from 
his seat and spoke : 

" His life is sullied with heinous sins, his soul 
is dark, his heart is impure* As a Christian and 
as a saint I ask for his damnation, may the devils 


torment his body and soul through aU eternity." 

A murmur of assent echoed through the Hall. 
I lifted my head and looked at my judges. They 
all looked back at me in stern silence. I bent 
my head and said nothing, I remembered the 
warning of the old Archangel to be silent, and 
besides I did not know what to say. Suddenly I 
noticed far away in the background a small saint 
nodding frantically at me. Presently I saw him 
timidly making his way among the bigger saints 
to where I stood near the door. 

" I know you well," said the little saint with a 
friendly glance in his gentle eyes, " I saw you 
coming," and putting his finger to his lips, he 
added in a whisper, "I also saw your faithful 
friend trotting at your heels." 

" Who are you, kind father? " I whispered back. 

" I am St. Rocco, the patron saint of the dogs," 
announced the little saint, " I wish I could help 
you but I am rather a small saint here, they won't 
listen to what I say," he whispered with a furtive 
glance towards the prophets and the holy fathers. 

" He was an unbeliever," St. Ignatius went on. 
"A blasphemous scoffer, a liar, an impostor, an 
enchanter full of black magic, a fornicator . . ." 

Several of the old prophets cocked their ears 

" He was young and ardent," pleaded St. Paul, 
"it is better to . . ." 

" Old age did not improve him," muttered a 

" He was fond of children," said St. John. 

" He was fond of their mothers too," growled a 
Patriarch in his beard* 


"He was a hard-working doctor, " said St. 
Luke, the Beloved Physician. 

" Heaven is full of his patients and so is Hell, 
I am told," retorted St. Dominic. 

"He has had the audacity to bring his dog 
with him, he is sitting waiting for his master out- 
side the Gates of Heaven," announced St. Peter. 

" He will not have to wait for his master for 
long," hissed St. Ignatius. 

" A dog at the gates of Heaven! " ejaculated a 
grim-looking old prophet in a furious voice. 

" Who is that? " I whispered to the patron saint 
of the dogs. 

" For God's sake don't say anything, remember 
the warning of the Archangel. I believe it is 

" If Habakkuk is amongst my judges I am lost 
in any case, *il est capable de tout,* said Vol- 

" A dog at the gates of Heaven," roared Habak- 
kuk, " a dog, an unclean beast! " 

It was too much for me. 

" He is not an unclean beast," I shouted back 
glaring angrily at Habakkuk, " he was created by 
the same God who created you and me. If there 
is a Heaven for us, there must also be a Heaven 
for the animals, though you grim old prophets, 
so fierce and stalwart in your holiness, have for- 
gotten all about them. So for the matter of that 
did you, Holy Apostles," I went on losing my 
head more and more. " Or why did you omit in 
your Holy scriptures to record a single saying of 
our Lord in defence of our dumb brethren? " 
"The Holy Church to which I belonged on 


earth has never taken any interest in the animals/* 
interrupted St. Anastasius, "nor do we wish to 
hear anything about them in Heaven. Blas- 
phemous fool, you had better think of your own 
soul instead of theirs, your own wicked soul about 
to return to the darkness from whence it came." 

" My soul came from Heaven and not from the 
Hell you have let loose on earth. I do not believe 
in your Hell." 

"You soon will believe in it, 5 ' wheezed the 
Grand Inquisitor, his eyeballs reflecting invisible 

" The wrath of God is upon him, he is mad, he 
is mad! " called out a voice. 

A cry of terror rang through the Hall of Judg- 

"Lucifer I Lucifer! Satan is amongst us!" 

Moses rose from his seat, gigantic and fierce, 
his Ten Commandments in his sinewy hands and 
flashes of lightning in his eyes. 

" How angry he looks," I whispered awestruck 
to the patron saint of the dogs. 

"He is always angry," the little saint whis- 
pered back in terror. 

"Let .no more be said about this spirit," 
thundered Moses. " The voice I have heard is a 
voice from the smoking lips of Satan. Man or 
demon, away from here! Jehovah, God of 
Israel, put forth Thy hand to smite him down! 
Burn his flesh and dry up the blood in his veins! 
Break all his bones! Cut him off from Heaven 
and earth and send Tn'm back to the Hell from 
whence he came!" 


"To Hell! To Hell!" echoed through the 
Hall of Judgment. 

I tried to speak but no sound came from my lips. 
My heart froze, I felt abandoned by God and 

"I will look after the dog if it comes to 
the worst," whispered the little saint at my 

Suddenly through the awful silence I thought 
I heard the twitter of birds. A little garden 
warbler alighted fearlessly on my shoulder and 
sang in my ear: 

"You saved the life of my grandmother, my 
aunt and my three brothers and sisters from tor- 
ture and death by the hand of man on that rocky 
island. Welcome ! Welcome I " 

At the same moment a skylark picked at my 
finger and twittered to me: 

" I met a flycatcher in Lapland who told me 
that when you were a boy you mended the wing 
of one of his ancestors and warmed his frozen 
body near your heart, and as you opened your 
hand to set him free you kissed him and 
said: * Godspeed little brother! Godspeed little 
brother ! * Welcome ! Welcome ! " 

"Help me little brother! Help me little 

" I will try, I will try," sang the skylark as he 
unfolded his wings and flew away with a trill of 
joy, " I will trrrrrry! " 

My eyes followed the skylark as he flew away 
towards the line of blue hills I could just see 
through the Gothic archway. How well I knew 
those hills from the paintings of Fra Angelico! 


The same silver grey olive trees, the same sombre 
cypresses standing out against the soft evening 
sky. I heard the bells of Assisi ringing the 
Angelus and there he came, the pale Umbrian 
saint, slowly descending the winding hill path 
with brother Leo and brother Leonardo at his 
side. Swift-winged birds fluttered and sang 
round his head, others fed from his outstretched 
hands, others nestled fearlessly among the folds 
of his cassock. St. Francis stood still by my side 
and looked at my judges with his wonderful eyes, 
those eyes that neither God nor man nor beast 
could meet with anger in theirs. 

Moses sank down in his seat letting fall his Ten 

"Always he," he murmured bitterly. "Al- 
ways he, the frail dreamer with his flock of birds 
and his following of beggars and outcasts. So 
frail and yet strong enough to stay Thy aveng- 
ing hand, Lord! Art Thou then not Jehovah, 
the jealous God, who descended in fire and smoke 
on Mount Sinai and made the people of Israel 
tremble with awe? Was it not Thy anger that 
bade me stretch forth my avenging rod to smite 
every herb in the field and break every tree that 
all men and beasts should die? Was it not Thy 
voice that spake in my Ten Commandments? 
Who win fear the flash of Thy lightning, O Lord! 
if the thunder of Thy wrath can be silenced by 
the twitter of a bird? " 

My head sank on St. Francis' shoulder, 

I was dead, and I did not know it.